Understanding communities and the products they want through human-centered design

Understanding communities and the products they want through human-centered design

In January, GRID Impact facilitated a behavioral research and design workshop at BRAC’s Dhaka HQ. Over two weeks, 22 members of staff learned how to incorporate human-centered design processes into project planning with the specific aim of increasing the enrollment and usage of mobile money among women in rural communities.

Asif Saleh, Senior Director of Strategy, Communication and Empowerment explained that behavioral research and human-centered design is “very important to BRAC at this stage. We’re trying to get to a model where it’s going to be a more demand-driven service that we offer. We’re trying to get into more social enterprise models.”

Mobile money is one way to address the specific needs of the poor, help them better manage their finances, and enable them to take control of their lives. In order to empower them, Maria May, Senior Programme Manager of the Social Innovation Lab, said that it is essential that “we really have to understand them and understand their dreams, their bad habits, everything about what makes them do what they do.”

This workshop aimed to achieve just that and equip BRAC staff with the knowledge and resources to undertake human-centered design and methodologies. The team deconstructed the research problem, looking at specific user behaviors and considered ideas about how to help encourage women to adopt mobile money. The team spent a few days in the field, engaging with rural BRAC clients and using participatory research and design methods in order to gather more information about how women use mobile money.

The team returned with observations and insights from the field to interact in what Alexandra Fiorillo from GRID Impact called “a very creative, rapid ideation session” where they formulated as many ideas as possible to develop concepts and low-fidelity prototypes. With these prototypes, the team returned to the field once more to get user feedback from rural women.

This human-centered design process encouraged BRAC staff to understand the behavioral issues and remaining challenges faced by agents, as well as current and potential mobile money customers.

Maria May, optimistic about the development and circulation of mobile money for BRAC in the coming years said, “In a lot of ways, the workshop’s just the beginning. From my perspective, we’ve got a seven pilots going on right now that use mobile money across BRAC and we’re planning several more this year.”

Watch the video here

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