New Job and Fellowship Postings – Quicksand and IDE Cambodia

Designers seeking jobs and fellowships, here are a few new opportunities.  Take a look, apply and/or pass them on through your networks.

 

Quicksand Design – Delhi or Bangalore, India

Communication Designer: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/18454027/Quicksand_Jobs_Communication-Designer.pdf

Design Researcher: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/18454027/Quicksand_Jobs_Design-Researcher.pdf

Website: http://quicksand.co.in/

 

IDE Cambodia – HCD iLab - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

HCD Research Design Fellow
http://www.ide-cambodia.org/images/research_design_fellow_jd_vfinal.pdf

HCD Training Designer Fellow
http://www.ide-cambodia.org/images/hcd_training_designer_fellow_jd_vfinal.pdf

Website: http://ide-cambodia.org

 

Five Skills Designers Have That Global Development Needs

By Heather Flemming of Catapult Design, originally published on GOOD, April 1, 2013

CatapultDesign_Africa_KidsWithCart

“Development is being disrupted,” says Raj Kumar, President of DevEx, a site devoted to helping the international development community deliver foreign aid more efficiently and effectively. Beyond the buzz generated by the “social entrepreneurship” and “impact investing” communities, I’ve seen a significant shift coming from traditional aid agencies in the past two years.

In 2010, USAID, the agency responsible for administering US foreign aid, launched the first-of-its-kind Development Innovation Ventures quarterly grant program. Its funding model is inspired by traditional venture capital and the focus is on scalable and entrepreneurial solutions to poverty alleviation. Similarly, in 2012 the World Bank hired a former Silicon Valley Google.org director to lead their new “Innovation Labs.” UNICEF and the Inter-American Development Bank have also launched their own “Innovation Labs” with similar goals of promoting open-dialogue, new methods, and cross-pollination of models that enable innovative activity.

So with all this talk about “innovation,” where are the designers, the technologists, and the entrepreneurs? The folks behind these initiatives are still folks with international and economic development backgrounds, economics and finance. If they’re serious about innovative approaches, it’s time creative problem solvers are added to the equation. Specifically, here are five strengths designers have that the development industry direly needs:

1. We are systems thinkers.
The problems that plague our world are complex, interwoven, and multifaceted. As designers, we solve problems through a combination of analytic and creative thinking. Many of the best designers I know are themselves multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary. In addition to a design degree, they’re also engineers or MBAs or economists. It takes both sides of the brain to generate solutions to social challenges.

2. Fresh eyes.
Einstein’s “We can’t solve the world’s problems by using the same type of thinking we used when we created them,” couldn’t ring more true. Many of the social issues we’re fighting today have existed for decades and consistently been addressing using old mechanisms—policy, aid, and philanthropy. We are long overdue for fresh thinking to old problems.

3. We have a prototyping culture.
We make a lot of mistakes in development—mistakes that sometimes negatively impact people with everything to lose; mistakes that could potentially be avoided if the development sector fostered a culture of iteration and refining ideas before rushing to scale. Instead, I see a lot of money going towards untested ideas or worse yet, “solutions in search of a problem.”

4. We focus on people.
Many decisions made today that affect the poor are made by people completely removed from their issues. A designer’s viewpoint, driven by an understanding of the needs of people or end-users, is completely unique and lacking within the development sector. The key to better policy, better products, and better public services is rooted in understanding of the key players and what motivates them.

5. We create capacity.
We build things. We build products, services, websites—and by doing so we are intrinsically building the capacity of those who make, distribute, sell, or use what we create. On a fundamental level, giving people access to tools that enhance their capacity is what drives economic development. We play a central role in creating those tools that are useful, relevant, and meaningful.

$22.8 billion of our projected fiscal budget is earmarked for poverty-reduction activity in 2013. Traditionally, international development agencies use the amount of the money put towards poverty alleviation as a metric for efficacy. I’m hoping the next few years shift that metric towards understanding underlying problems and funding new solutions that address those problems. In order to do that, we need a new breed of development thinkers. The next generation of designers is inspired by careers that provide meaning and impact. Now is the perfect time for the development sector to start connecting the dots.

Image courtesy of Catapult Design

Social Impact Design Competition from Siemens Foundation

Hey all, passing this on from a friend.  I hope it’s of interest and a good opportunity for some of you:

Announcing:  The Siemens Foundation Empowering People Award

The Empowering People Award is looking for solutions or products which have the potential of social impact for people in developing and emerging countries in the following categories:

  • Water & Waste Water
  • Energy
  • Food & Agriculture
  • Waste Management & Recycling
  • Healthcare
  • Housing & Construction
  • Information & Communication Technology

The prizes will be allocated as follows:

1st Prize EUR 50,000.00
2nd Prize EUR 30,000.00
3rd Prize EUR 20,000.00
20 runners up EUR 5,000.00 (each)

Please have a look at the criteria here: http://www.empowering-people-award.siemens-stiftung.org/empowering-people-award/evaluation-criteria/ . This is a great opportunity to receive recognition and funding and I hope you will apply and spread the word about this.

To registerhttp://www.empowering-people-award.siemens-stiftung.org/award-registration/

Feel free to spread the word on social media channels, and find the Empowering People Award on Twitter: @emp_ppl_award

And if you have any questions or need any more info, you can follow up with Vallabh Rao (@raovallabh).

Good luck!

BoP Designer – Status Update

Hi all,

Sorry for the lack of activity recently.  My day job is taking much more of my time than it used to, but I love this content and sharing it with all of you.  I’d love to keep it rolling and expanding and if you’d like to help, I’d be thrilled to have you.  Please contact me if you’d like to be a regular or occasional writer, tweeter or if you have great WordPress skills and some effort to lend–I have some RSS ideas in mind.

In the meantime, I’ll keep posting whenever I can (below) and the BoP Designer Daily is refreshed every day to keep you up to date on what’s going on in the world of social innovation and design.  Feel free to retweet stories and share with others.  Also be sure to check out friends and colleagues on the list of other great blogs and websites.

Cheers,

Dave

Quetsol – Affordable Solar Electricity in Guatemala

The talk below is by Quetsol cofounder, Juan Fermín Rodriguez, given at the finale of the Unreasonable Institute 2012, at which he was one of 22 social entrepreneurs from around the world to be named Unreasonable Fellows.

For more information about products, their input and investment, download their informational PDF below:

Quetsol Investment Kit (Presentation) – 4.8mb – click image to download

Global Village Construction Set

Open Source Ecology is “a network of farmers, engineers, and supporters building the Global Village Construction Set.  The Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) is a modular, DIY, low-cost, high-performance platform that allows for the easy fabrication of the 50 different industrial machines that it takes to build a small, sustainable civilization with modern comforts.

Those 50 machines range from tractors to bread ovens to circuit board makers and founder Marcin Jakubowski and volunteers from all over the world have prototyped eight (as of November 2011) so far.

I love this idea.  Check out Jakubowski describing the concept in this brief TED talk:

As Jakubowski says, “We’re focusing on hardware because it is hardware that can change people’s lives in such tangible and material ways.”  Not just for developing countries, but developed ones too—farmers, small business owners, etc.  ”Our goal is a repository of published designs so clear and so complete that a single DVD is effectively a civilization starter kit.”

For those of you who got excited about the page full of logos for other open-source hardware initiatives like I did, here they are with links—enjoy!

RepRap
Arduino
MAKE:
Lasersaur
MakerBot
TechShop
Willow Garage
DIY Drones
SparkFun 

Soap It Up! Hand Washing Design Challenge

WASH Unitedis launching a new open design challenge—”to design a handwashing station for a rural Indian household that is attractive, acceptable and marketable.”  5 winners will be chosen to have their designs prototyped and tested with users all over India as part of “The Great WASH Yatra—a traveling festival with a goal to educate and excite communities on how to improve the quality of their lives and tackle sanitation, both practically and meaningfully.”

The challenge is in partnership with Quicksand Design, IDEO, Hattery Labs, Südfeuer and the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program (WSP).  Details follow (click to enlarge, and for better quality):

In-the-field prototyping with Jugaad, MacGyver & me

Another great view into real world design and prototyping by Catapult Design—this time from industrial designer Noel Wilson.  Reposted with permission from Catapult’s blog, originally published here.

The value of a prototype is in what it can test. It isn’t always necessary to make it pretty, nor to make it function, it totally depends on what you are trying to learn from it. On a frugal budget, be it of time or funds, one prototype can be made to test many things, and then adapted again to test even more…but really prototypes were made to be broken, and if they last too long it is a sign you’re either not testing them hard enough or you’ve become too attached.  I admit…after sweating over prototypes late into the night in my makeshift workshops (set  up in hallways, bedrooms, bathrooms etc) and scrutinizing them for days or weeks, it is hard to let them go, let alone batter them until they fail. But tough love is justified in this case

Prep for the next days prototyping
– Preparing for the next day’s prototyping

On this trip I was headed to Rajasthan with Wello to visit a  mix of communities around Jodhpur & Udaipur to tune their device to better suit peoples needs and environment (see our Wello project page). I had to carry my kit on some challenging modes of transport to slice, melt, join, flatten, form, twist and repair our prototypes as we broke them.

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Embrace Infant Warmer

Happy Mother’s Day from BoP Designer!  Today’s the perfect time for a post about a design innovation I’ve been researching just recently: the Embrace Infant Warmer.

Embrace is a low-cost alternative to expensive incubators for babies born prematurely or otherwise unable to maintain their own body temperature.  According to Embrace’s website:

20,000,000 low-birth-weight and premature babies are born each year. 450 of them die each hour. This occurs primarily in developing countries, often in areas that don’t have access to innovations in modern medicine. One of the biggest problems these babies face is hypothermia: they are not able to regulate their own body temperature, and therefore cannot stay warm. In fact, room temperature for these small infants feels freezing cold. 4 million babies die within their first month of life. Those that do survive often develop life-long health problems such as early onset of diabetes, heart disease, and low IQ.

Their solution “looks like a miniature sleeping bag that incorporates a phase change material, which stays at a constant temperature for up to 6 hours. This low-cost solution maintains premature and low birth weight babies’ body temperature to help them survive and thrive.”

Continue reading

Insights from Embrace on Design for Social Impact

The following is reposted with permission from Embrace.  The original post appears here, originally published June 27, 2011.  

The Embrace Infant Warmer (profiled here on BoP Designer) is a low cost alternative to traditional incubators with many other benefits. In this insightful post, Embrace’s designers answer questions about design thinking and what it means to have been selected as a finalist for the INDEX 2011 design awards, asked by Embrace’s Business Development Manager, Ana Manzur-Allan:

Ana: Somebody said that to be an effective designer for social impact, we need to be humble listeners and fearless leaders, all at the same time, which is no easy feat. What are your thoughts on this?

Eu-wen: The person who said this was Emily Pilloton, founder of Project H Design and she is absolutely right. One of the key difficulties we face in our work is that the vision we have of the future, the vision that inspires and drives us in our work, is a fiction that many of our users and external stakeholders find difficult to be able to share with us. Our users grow up under severe resource constraints, and tightly circumscribed sociocultural norms. Opportunity to dream of something better is a luxury that we take for granted, but is often not even a rewarding exercise for people like our users because more often than not, that is exactly what it turns out to be for them – a dream.

Thus it is rare for us to be able to effectively co-create with our users, especially under the kind of pressing timelines that we put on ourselves (change should have happened yesterday, and I am impatient). The only viable strategy to create effective design for social impact, is then to carefully understand our users as best we can, in ways that they might not even be able to imagine themselves because we are imagining them interacting in a future with a new product that does not really exist yet. It then becomes our terrifying responsibility to take this understanding, and boldly make design decisions on behalf of our user. I guess I actually would tweak Pilloton’s statement to say “bold” rather than “fearless” because especially where Embrace is concerned, developing medical devices for social impact, failures in our design’s usability can lead to exposing infants to more harm than good, and so it is with no small amount of both boldness and trepidation that I craft my design.

The nutshell is this: Designers and engineers generally do not come from poor villages. They thus need the humility and tremendous empathy to understand their users who come from completely different backgrounds and often utilize very different mental models to understand and frame their world. Bold leadership is thus especially necessary when you consider how audacious and presumptuous one must be to create a design for people so unlike yourself. Continue reading