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Solving local problems – even from abroad

Many German companies who invest abroad struggle to cater to the needs of local users because they don’t understand the local context. The Lab of Tomorrow is a business model innovation process that builds on the Sustainable Development Goals, by giving entrepreneurs the tools to solve real world challenges that are grounded in users’ realities and localities.

The Lab of Tomorrow was launched by Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ), and saw six companies selected to be part of the Lab: Food4Health, Dronex, Med on Demand, Healthy Appy, DAWA IT and Value Chain 4.0. They met in Kenya for a design thinking workshop run by ThinkPlace and GIZ to address the theme of ’Improving access to medicines and medical diagnosis in rural areas of Kenya’.  

What we did was to help people map out their business using the business model canvas and value proposition canvas, identifying the questions they wanted answered and the partners and stakeholders that could give them the local insights.  Through our contextual knowledge and network, we mobilised local stakeholders such as AMREF, local county representatives, IHS and pharmacies so that the participants’ questions could be answered.

After further developing their products, a cross-section of people with a stake in improving access to medicines and medical diagnosis in rural Kenya, formed a panel for participants to pitch their ideas to, in a ’Dragon’s Den’ style investor pitch. The panel gave participants feedback that helped each team to further develop their offering and refine the areas that still needed work.

Going through the Lab of Tomorrow business model process gave all the groups a greater understanding of the importance of designing in context, and co-creating and co-designing solutions with users, stakeholders and partners to create sustainable products that make an impact for users and partners alike. What was once a model of designing in isolation, has now become a collaborative design model, with designers in Germany working with partners on the ground to have truly user centric business models.

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Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ)
Project Team
Dean Johnson's profile'
Michael Ngigi's profile'
Richard Amwayi's profile'

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