WHAT IS PROJECT FIRST LIGHT?

SERVICE DESIGN FOR
COMMUNITY SUSTAINABILITY

FIRST LIGHT - FJORD, INNOVATION FUND PROJECT, 2016

DESIGN & INNOVATION IN THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Over the past few years, one of Fjord’s founders, Mike Beeston, has been working hard in Kivu, the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo on the border of Rwanda and Burundi.

Mike was introduced to Congo by Falling Whistles, a non-profit working in Eastern Congo, after they met when they were both speaking at the Do lectures.

Together with local people, Mike founded "Ensemble Pour La Difference". Ensemble is a not-for-profit, community interest company that provides macro-loans, design and innovation mentorship to SMEs that are rooted in local culture and have proven community value.

Fjord have partnered with Ensemble and Falling Whistles on the "First Light" project, intended to help Congolese people innovate with design-led strategy, training and technology.

First Light has been funded by the Fjord Innovation Fund, which provides support for great ideas that apply the design craft to social causes and extend the boundaries of the design discipline.

FJORD'S CHALLENGE

Our challenge is to design and implement sustainable business services that are owned and run by local people, thus bringing tangible human value to hundreds of thousands of people in one of the poorest and most constrained countries in the world.

We are setting up design and innovation led educational initiatives, along with developing our own design-led methodologies, honing our practice in the toughest of environments.

Fjord’s Living Services strategy describes the next wave of digital - service design where experiences evolve and sculpt around unique human needs. In the DRC, we have a green-field sandbox to find sustainable solutions to the way we live. With First Light, we are designing a new bespoke infrastructure, a human approach rooted in local businesses and open source.

You can read our latest developments on our blog

OUR PROGRESS SO FAR...

OUR WORK

BRINGING THE INTERNET TO
THE ISLAND OF IDJWI

COMMUNITY MAINTAINED CONNECTIVITY

In the middle of Lake Kivu, lies the untouched island of Idjwi. Ensemble supports small businesses there, including coffee growers and a women’s textiles manufacturing cooperative based in a refuge for victims of domestic violence. There are interested buyers for the commodities here, but customers need to be able to regularly contact sellers and track their orders.

Although many people have a legacy mobile phone, on salaries of less than $1-a-day, few can afford to make calls or texts. With low literacy, and without any way to communicate internally or externally, or to schedule and collectivise their efforts, business operations have been uncoordinated.

Mike was invited to meet the King (Mwami) of the island. The Mwami explained to Mike that the isolation was causing many young people to leave. He asked Mike to try to bring the internet to the island, in the hope that the connectivity might boost the local economy, education and quality of life.

We needed to design a solution not just for internet infrastructure, but also for access and usability.

Read our case study on fjordnet.com

OUR WORK

NEW HOPE HOSPITAL

ENHANCING HEALTH SERVICES

Dr Pascal runs a hospital in the town of Kavumu, an hour’s drive north of Bukavu, the capital of Kivu. His vision is to provide modern healthcare across the region, and with a loan from Ensemble, he has set up Kavumu’s first dependable hospital. Before the hospital, families stricken by malnutrition, malaria, injury and lack of family planning, had only traditional medicine or sporadic support from NGOs to turn to.

Introducing health services for the first time requires Dr Pascal to be more than just a physician, he must also be a marketer, a campaigner and an educator. His outreach activities inform people of the hospital’s existence and help local people understand that care is there for them.

But communities have little to spend and initially do not clearly understand the benefits. We have been designing medical services for Dr Pascal that are embedded into the physical and operational realities of this rural area.

Dr Pascal told us that his most urgent need was to introduce a digital patient management system. With patient numbers growing it had become much harder for him to monitor medical records and payments.

Read our case study on fjordnet.com

LATEST UPDATE

PAMOJA "TOGETHERNESS" NET

A COMMUNITY COMMONS

For the uninitiated, our public display demonstrates what the internet can do. Our kiosked services using Raspberry Pis and tablets enable islanders without their own devices to call, text and go online. Our affordable, Pay-as-you-Go model, includes a management system for our guardians to set up new users, manage credit and run the kiosk services.

We set fees proportional to islanders’ wages ($2 per month), which we researched that customers would be willing to pay to cover connection and maintenance costs. We designed a payment portal and android app that allowed people without a bank account or email address to buy airtime through the guardians.

Additionally we have delivered:

  • An organisational manifesto, signed by the king of the island, to keep information access on our network a publically owned commons.
  • Training for local people with the skills required, to maintain the network themselves.
  • A website, allowing people to attend cultural & educational events, movie and educational screenings and book training in the Microsoft Office suite, thus improving employment opportunities.
  • Full time employment for 4 network guardians, ensuring female representation, to keep the service diverse at its roots.

Our mission, is that Pamoja Net will become fully self-sustaining and belong to the Bany’Idjwi (people of Idjwi) as a community resource and hub, sharing the benefits and responsibility amongst all, thereby bringing the community together, stronger than before.

Read more

LATEST UPDATE

NEW HOPE HOSPITAL GOES DIGITAL

PATIENT RECORDS SYSTEM INSTALLED

During our Fjord Makeshop in Nairobi, we met the makers of the rugged, low-power 2G/3G router BRCK. The BRCK is bringing connectivity to rural areas across Kenya, and it seemed a good choice for both backing up Dr Pascal's patient data to it, and then also to the cloud.

Arthur repurposed a low-power home entertainment PC to act as the hospital server and set up OpenMRS on it, and three accompanying Lenovo tablets for use by nursing staff. We wanted to monitor how the system is used, and prepared research material on its performance and usability.

Dr Pascal’s new IT system went live in February 2015, and after just two weeks all his patients were successfully registered. Within that time, Dr Pascal had already reached out to the open source OpenMRS community to program additional plug-ins for billing and pharma stock management. It was wonderful to see the system so well received by our client.

Now the system has been running for over three months and over 500 patients are being managed within it. Due to the knock-on effect of lowered admin, the hospital is now able to treat between 20 to 30 patients a week.

Crucially, the introduction of the system has been pivotal in Dr Pascal securing a contract with the U.N. to treat 1000 Congolese U.N. employees.

Read more

TIMELINE

WE NEED YOUR HELP!

TO BUILD PROJECT FIRST LIGHT,
WE NEED YOUR HELP!

We are looking for partners who can help us sustain peace and stability by empowering the people in the Kivu region to create employment opportunities themselves.

Project First Light requires a host of individuals and organisations to work together, to make a sustainable difference.

If you would be interested in providing health, education, connectivity, legislative, or corporate responsibility services, we would be very interested to partner with you.

Collectively, we can tell a story that brings together design, digital and innovation to make a truly positive change in the lives of thousands of people.

Email us at
fjord.firstlight@accenture.com

WHO ARE WE?

OUR TEAM

PATRICK
BYAMUNGU

Director - Ensemble Pour La Difference

MIKE
BEESTON

Founder - Ensemble Pour La Difference

ANDERS
OLSSON

CEO - Falling Whistles

EUAN
MILLAR

Project Lead - Creative Technology Manager - Fjord

DAN
HARRIS

Principal Director - Fjord

ANTHONY
ZAGARIKO

Visual Designer - Fjord

ANNELI
WESTERBERG

Interaction Designer - Fjord

OLIVER
WATSON

Researcher - Fjord

FANUS
WALLACE

IT Manager - Fjord

CHUKA
EBI

Creative Technologist - Fjord

NIK
WIEDEMANN

Business Design Assoc. Manager - Fjord

MALIN
MAKI

Design & Innovation Principle - Fjord

CHEECH
RYAN

Design & Innovation Principle - Fjord

ARTHUR
FLORIANI-MARTINS

Creative Technologist - Fjord

RICARDO
MACHADO DE ABREU

World's Best Project Manager - Fjord