What We’re Learning: What’s our Value Proposition?

As we work through our Design for Scale lab, we’re tackling five key design questions – starting with question #1: What’s the value proposition of our innovation?

Very simply, the value proposition of your innovation is the benefit your solution provides combined with why it’s better than anything else that exists! The tricky part about value proposition is that it’s not defined by us. It’s defined by our user.

value propositionOf course, we always start implementation thinking that we know what the value proposition is for our end user. However, a key step in identifying our value proposition is being prepared to be wrong or not understand the full story.  We need to be prepared to learn from our users and pay careful attention to unexpected results. At the beginning stages of an innovation it is critical to use qualitative methods that can capture unexpected value that the innovation has.

A second way we can learn about our value proposition is to look for viral replication and sharing. To see people who are replicating or copying our work without prompting or incentive tells us we’ve found an area with a strong value proposition.

Once we’ve identified a value proposition, we need to be able to articulate it!

We’re loving the simple formats from these excellent blog posts: Proven Templates for Creating Value Propositions that Work and Three More Proven Value Proposition Templates that Work

 

5 Minutes of Inspiration – How Krishi Utsho Improved Income in Bangladesh by 31%

How the Avon Lady Improved Income in Bangladesh by 31% by Emily Janoch

Krishi Utsho (KU) in Bangladesh has improved farmer incomes by 31% using a model that make-up sales in the United States pioneered more than  century ago.  Find out how below.

The Avon Lady in rural Bangladesh: it’s actually a more apt metaphor than you think. Avon uses a direct sales model that aims to get products to people who would not normally be able to access them, and that’s exactly what Krishi Utsho is—a way to get products closer to people.

Instead of selling makeup, they’re selling fertilizer, feed, and veterinary services. They may be getting more beautiful cows (IFPRI refers to some of these approaches as the “pampered cow project”), but the real impact is on the farmers.  With the support of the Finn Brooks Family Foundation, they’ve been working since 2012 to improve access to goods for the poorest families in Bangladesh.

What did we accomplish?

  • Higher Incomes: Farmers in areas covered by Krishi Utsho had a 31% increase in their incomes, and vendors were able to earn $1,394 per month.  That’s more than 8 times what the average farmer makes in a month, so being a vendor is an attractive option.
  • Cheaper, easier access to products: Because the shops are closer to home, farmers cut the time they spent going to get inputs in half (a 58% reduction), and dropped their cost on items like feed by 92%.  So people have more money to spend from income, but also on savings from the goods.
  • Stronger businesses: Besides the income, shop owners saw a 25% increase in their sales—and now they’re serving nearly 17,000 people a month.
  • Healthier families: Farmers in Krishi Utsho areas increased their spending on protein and vegetables by 15%, so they have better diets.  56% of families increased their spending on health care and education with the new money they had available.
  • More empowered women: in Krishi Utsho areas, women were 84% more likely to be able to influence household decisions in 2015 than they were in 2012.  They were 250% more likely to be able to make decisions about income generating activities at home.

How did we get there?

  • Set up shops with a quality brand standard: Krishi Utsho helped set up 64 branded shops that have a common brand, but are individually owned businesses—the franchise approach.  To be a Krishi Utsho approach, they have to stock quality products and provide high quality services.
  • Build Better Businesses: Krishi Utsho trained shop owners in business skills, and helped them make connections to providers of quality agricultural products. Once they have the necessary training, CARE can provide certificates and quality of service standards that people trust. CARE also serves as a trusted broker between the big brands and the KU owners.
  • Got the extra (last) mile: because the KU shops reach thousands of people that normally would never access products in bigger cities or farther away, they are attractive options for makers of inputs like fertilizer, vet services, and seeds to change their marketing and pricing to reach new customers.  It also makes products more accessible for women, who have less mobility, and for people who cannot spare the time or money to travel.
  • Build demand: By training poor, rural farmers in improved agricultural techniques and the need for services, and then connecting them to solutions that work, CARE helps the local market strengthen for everyone.  CARE’s Monitoring & Evaluation and technology platforms also help track demand and see what needs to change in the future.

Want to learn more?
Check out the Krishi Utsho Innovation Brief  and the Impact Assessment.

What we’re reading – Change by Design

While we’re working through our human-centered design lab, a fantastic quote from Tim Brown’s classic, Change by Design:

“Eventually, once the right idea has been agreed upon, the project team settles down to a state of pragmatic optimism punctuated by moments of extreme panic.” 

The moral of the story… if you can’t tame your fear when you’re in uncharted waters, at least know that it’s normal!

If you haven’t got around to reading Change by Design, check out this great summary on Medium:

https://medium.com/book-reads/change-by-design-tim-brown-2ed3271f6f19#.oxtxnwqem 

 

 

Getting to know our “users” and our “scalers”

This month, our accelerator teams are diving into a lab on human-centered design with GRID Impact. At the core of most accelerators, incubators or innovation “hubs” is the practice of getting to know your end user or your customer. Human-centered design has famously brought co-creation and empathy to the heart of innovation in the private sector.

As development workers, though, we often pride ourselves on being deeply empathetic, on both an organizational and individual level.  Our programmatic frameworks are built on human rights and empowerment, after all. But how well do we really know the participants in our programs (our “end users”)? Lots of data from formative research and long-term local presence can sometimes lull us into a false sense of knowing more than we really do, especially when it comes to designing programs.

It’s only fair to illustrate the point by picking on myself. Years ago, I worked on CARE’s avian influenza portfolio.  When avian flu first emerged, U.N. agencies and NGOs knew we had to act fast to provide advice to millions of backyard farmers across Asia.  During those early days, CARE was one of the first organizations to raise issues from the perspective of local communities, such as the disproportionate impact that culling flocks was having on women since they were more likely to raise backyard poultry.

Because we were closer to the community, I was pretty confident CARE could develop useful guidance for farmers. We spent time on our formative research and got out to project sites to interview farmers.  But when I got home, I did something that totally changed my perspective.  I built a chicken coop, got a few chickens and put them in my backyard. I became a backyard farmer.

new addition

These were my chickens.  You are looking at a picture of Lucile, Cordelia, Buffy and Rogue.  In just a few weeks, these ladies taught me that many of those key messages that the humanitarian community collectively developed were actually pretty terrible and not at all practical.   It wasn’t until I dove into an immersive experience to understand our “users” that the proverbial light bulb went off.

So our first question in the accelerator is, how can we push ourselves further in understanding our end user?   Do we really understand the value of our innovation from our users’ perspective?  Can we articulate it from the users’ perspective? What evidence do we have that our users see their problem and our solution the same way we do?

Also, as we scale, we have to shift our mindset to thinking about the people and institutions that will replicate or scale our innovation as users as well.  How often do we miss the opportunity to design for their needs and constraints?  If we don’t design our innovations with these implementers or “scalers” in mind, we will definitely fail to achieve uptake.

Introduction to Human-Centered Design (HCD)

Human-Centered Design (HCD)

“Human-centered design is a creative approach to problem solving; it’s a process that starts with the people you’re designing for and ends with new solutions that are tailor made to suit their needs. Human-centered design is all about building a deep empathy with the people you’re designing for; generating tons of ideas; building a bunch of prototypes; sharing what you’ve made with the people you’re designing for; and eventually putting your innovative new solution out in the world.” –IDEO.org

Why do a lab on human-centered design?

All innovation labs, accelerators, and incubators have “user-centered” or “human-centered” approaches as a core element.  They also embrace a mindset of rapid prototyping, testing, and iteration.  You’ll often hear the popular phrase, “failing fast” or “failing forward, faster.”  You’ll find those same threads in virtually all programs worldwide.

For the first lab session, teams are going to be introduced to these mindsets and also provided with practical tools to give them exposure to the full human-centered design process so they can immediately start doing something with it .  Experts from GRID Impact will be presenting this lab. More on them in another post!

Want to learn more?

Check out this Devex article on human-centered design for development.

Watch this video where PSI staff talk about embracing the methods of HCD as part of their way of working:

 

Meet the Teams: Core To Care: Get the Land Right

Through the Mobile Application to Secure Tenure (MAST) project, CARE Tanzania has piloted a participatory and innovative approach to measure land plots through a mobile application technology. The software was developed by the private US company Cloudburst and was piloted in three villages, funded by USAID. The project was introduced to government officials both at the national and the local level before implementation. Over a period of 3 weeks the application mapped 910 land plots and the same number of Certificates of Customary Rights of Occupancy (CCROs) were issued to villagers. Out of these 31% were issued to individual women. Another 3% was co-owned by women and 13% was issued to couples. The remaining 53% was for men. These percentages of land being accessed by women are much higher than the national average of land titles owned by women (around 20%). This provides evidence that land registration can be executed in a relatively short period of time in a way that takes into account land rights of women. The sofware application simplifies the land registration process; it is an easy-to-use, open-source smartphone application that facilitates mapping by trained young villagers (girls and boys) verification by village land adjudication committees. It is also low cost, transparent and time effective. The methodology is five times faster than manual mapping and three times faster than the methodology which uses conventional GPS technology. Watch this video to learn more!

 

Jane Mgone | Coordinator, Knowledge Sharing and Learning | CARE Tanzania

Jane Mgone started with CARE in 2014 and currently Learning plays a key role in supporting CARE to achieve its new business model by 2020 through enhancing knowledge sharing and learning so that CARE can be more innovative and improve communication.  As a  coordinator, she is at the center of communication and information lines within the organization and interfaces with other departments to improve the use of modern technology and software as well as to conduct research regarding learning methodologies, best practices, and innovative opportunities. Jane has received a Masters of International Relations from the University of Leicester, and she has over five years of experience in the Department Sector with a focus on knowledge management and communications.

Mustapha Issa | Program Coordinator | CARE Tanzania

Mustapha Issa started working with CARE in 2015 and works coordinating initial project mobilization with the Government of Tanzania (GoT) and other stakeholders.  As Program Coordinator, he is responsible for conducting outreach and public awareness related to land rights, organizing training courses, and building capacity with regard to the key land laws and legal processes related to the formalization of land rights in the Iringa district. He is an engineer and environmentalist with five years of experience in Geographic Information System (GIS) and land surveying.

Thabit Masoud | Director Technical Unit, Natural Resources and Climate Change | CARE Tanzania

Thabit Masoud is a forester with MS degree in Conservation Biology from the University of Kent and Canterbury. Thabit has coordinated various projects and programs cultivating forest conservation and development thinking and has over 20 years of experience working with government and for CARE in overseeing and coordinating natural resources management projects and programs, with a more recent focus on community based adaptation and resilience against climate shock.

Shelina Mallozzi | Deputy Country Director | CARE Tanzania

Shelina started with CARE in 2014 and has an extensive background in program management for leading pharmaceutical companies such as Bayer and Novo Nordisk and most recently served as the technical writer for a local Tanzania NGO that was awarded two programs from USAID and CDC. Shelina has a Bachelors in Biology from Harvard and a Master’s in Business Management/ Public Health from Yale.

Paul Daniëls | Country Director | CARE Tanzania

Paul Daniels, a Dutch national, started his international career as a Junior Professional Officer with the United Nations Works and Relief Agency (UNRWA) in the Middle East and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Mexico.  He has a bachelor degree in Business Economics of the University of Brabant and a Master Degree in Development Economics of the University of Amsterdam. After his tenure with the UN he started working for international NGOs. He was a Coordinator for cross border Rural Development Programming in Afghanistan with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), being based in Peshawar. He also served as a Deputy Director for IRC in the same location. Subsequently he became IRC’s Country Director in Georgia and Vienna, Austria. The Vienna program was a resettlement program for Bosnian and Iranian refugees to the US. Following his tenure with IRC he joined UMNCOR as a Country Director in Armenia, where he was instrumental in setting up a local micro-finance organization, AREGAK, with a portfolio of 6 million dollars.  From UMCOR he went to work for Mercy Corps in Lebanon and then joined CARE as Program Director for Somalia, being based in Nairobi, Kenya. During this assignment he was forced to close all CARE’s operations in South/Central Somalia because of threats by the Al-Shebab movement. After three years he was appointed to Program Director in Sudan just before the separation of North and South Sudan. Since July 2012 he is the Country Director of CARE in Tanzania. His two adult children are or have been working as officers for international NGOs in the Republic of Georgia and Libya.  While in Kenya his family adopted a 2-year old who is now attending school in Dar es Salaam. During his tenure with CARE in Tanzania he worked with his team on a new strategy for the Tanzania office, WEZESHA, which is based on the CPR recommendations, in line with the CI strategy and focuses on women empowerment and climate change adaptation.