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Amplifying Existing Altruistic Behaviour Among Low-Income Kenyans

In the early days of a newly independent Kenyan nation, the first president Jomo Kenyatta used to stand in his traditional chiefly clothing and boldly wave a staff made from the hairs of a cow tail, yelling Harambee! Swahili for ‘all pull together,’ harambee soon became a rallying cry for the country to pull together its resources with a united vision for the future.

Over the decades, harambee has come to signify the spirit of helping others – that is, success means first helping those around you reach their full potential. The term has also been translated into the popular practice of a community coming together to fundraise for someone’s urgent need.

M-Changa is Kenya’s leading digital fundraising platform, facilitating the act of carrying out and donating to a harambee. Because M-Changa’s primary customer base is middle-income urban Kenyans, ThinkPlace was invited to conduct targeted research, ideation, and design to develop a new product that targets the low-income market. In developing a product design strategy, ThinkPlace considered questions around customer acquisition (user adoption), customer retention, and business model innovation that can drive M-Changa to appeal to an entirely new user group.

ThinkPlace’s approach centered on a rapid design sprint model, which started with conducting immersive research in various parts of rural Kenya followed by rapid ideation and concept development (directly with users, through a series of co-design workshops) and ending with testing in-situ with users. Our immersive research revealed deep insights around altruism, trust, and reciprocity, answering key questions like, what motivates someone to give to a stranger in need? The team conducted three design sprints in total, iteratively refining and prioritising the design solutions based on user feedback. The range of prototypes included disruptive service design solutions to more incremental product improvements, offering M-Changa a diverse set of design interventions which create immense value for the low-income user.

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