Today marked the first design session with our partners at Appropriate Rural Technology Institute (ARTI). A day that started with a bit of anxiety on our part about leading a design process for a team that didn’t speak the same language or operate within our creative freedom felt a little unnerving.

Sachi, Godfrey and John check out juabar components at the ARTI offices.

Would they think we were nuts? Confusing? Could we bring our design chops to the Swahili table?

Last night we planned for today’s outcomes and nailed down how best to talk through our design principles and co-designing methods. We spent yesterday evening illustrating our concept and drawing out the community ecosystem where juabar would be introduced. Then we pinpointed what considerations we should detail based on our research: security, weight, durability, charge capacity, and mobility.

Unleashing our juabar components upon ARTI was like Christmas for the solar technicians. Unpackaging the Solar Nexus (the brain of juabar) and charge controllers fed the curiosity of these guys who work with electrical systems daily. The sales and admin staff were also getting in on the excitement and contributing to the process in their own ways.

The technicians of ARTI ideate on juabar concept! Excitement was felt by all!

The day was spectacular! At first it was a little slow going as we had to make sure our business partner, Godfrey, understood the juabar concept well enough to translate to the others. We unfurled markers, paper, drawings, tape and an openness to their input within the context of this project. While slow at first, once they fully understood the design concept for juabar, they were off and running, designing juabars, sailing forward with new ideas and considerations. At one point one of the business development guys wanted to talk about challenges for the entrepreneurs who would be running these juabars and off he went to create an initial SWOT analysis for us. Needless to say, the folks at ARTI are excited for the possibilities of juabar. We’re excited to share more as we enter Day 3 on the ground.

juabar co-design wall at ARTI!