On 15th and 19th July, the RAN team organized a Design Thinking and Business Modeling training for the 80 participants including youth from the SmartUp Factory, a youth hub under Plan International Uganda and students under the internship program at the RAN offices. The students were from various disciplines including Mass Communication, Business Administration, Information Technology, Biomedical Engineering and Social Sciences among others. To enhance collaborative learning, these participants have been working on allocated assignments in groups/teams.  The design thinking and business modeling sessions were organized to help the students translate what they have learnt from school and skillfully implement that knowledge in the communities as part of strengthening community resilience.

The training which was facilitated by the multidisciplinary RAN team including; Deborah Natuujuna, Harriet Adong, Ronald Kayiwa, and Brian Ndyaguma was officially opened by Nathan Tumuhamye, the EA RILab Director. In his opening remarks, the Director encouraged participants not to have emphasis on their professions but critically think about the people who are going to use their solutions. Deborah Naatujuna called this “a new kind of Leadership” that has the capacity to catalyze and enable creative approaches yield into scaled impact through strategic vision, innovations, deep value and a systems holistic view. The training dwelt on the potential uses of the Human Centered Design including modules on Needfinding, brainstorming, prototyping, storytelling, and business modeling.

As part of their Needfinding challenge, the participants were tasked with mock interviews engaging community members faced with challenges including frequent disease outbreaks, poor water sanitation leading to cholera, prevalence of HIV and AIDS especially in the young generation among others. The teams brainstormed and developed prototypes that were later pitched to their colleagues. Five (5) prototypes were developed and the most outstanding innovation was a wearable device that can be used to crowd source information in the rural communities using agents like community health works. These agents would then transmit this information-real time from various sources to the concerned medical personnel.   The device is low cost and uses solar power/energy to keep it charged.

During the Business Modelling session, participants were taken through the business composition of a start-up which was defined as a temporary organisation designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model. The start-up phase is one of the important stages of an innovation where the operations, customer segments, costs, partners among others are ironed out. Participants filled out their canvases and took copies of the same for further personal guidance.

“To the students, this was an eye opener especially in realizing different community challenges and creating solutions within the shortest time possible through a guided process understanding human needs and attitudes. Training in the Human Centred Design (HCD) is available at the ResilientAfrica Network (RAN), please visit www.ranlab.org for details and contact the team via info@ranlab.org.”






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