Posts filed under ‘BOP’

Cycling Social Innovation Part 2: Cuba

Continuing with the series of posts about equality fostered by bicycles [Check out the part 1 post: Cycling in Morocco], I wanted to  add some other ethno-photographs regarding a series of “usage innovations or self-crafted adaptations” that are, in this case, portraying Cubans [Taken on a “road trip” from Havana to Santiago de Cuba and the Keys]. And Cuba affords a not very common setting. Not only for it’s political standing, but because there are constraints that oblige people to make what they can form the things they have available on the island. A huge contrast with the excessive use planned obsolescence of industrial designs present in countries like the States, France or Spain. Nonetheless, the “commuting” context in Cuba is not easy. Roads are full of holes, individuals wait for hours for any transportation for getting from one place to another which can make a day-to-day journey harder than what we are used to. Yet, innovation driven by scarcity does happen in this context… and you can even get a hole in your tire fixed with a “condom” [no kidding], which thanks to the State birth control policies, are cheaper to get than a rubber repair kit for your bike. In the end it’s still a polymer no? Still, patterns arise when comparing the cycling behaviors of Cubans, Chileans, West Africans and even in the States…. They will be visible as other posts are revealed. [All pictures taken by CM ]

Commuting is not really easy….

Over-use of the bike [a bicycle built for two?]



August 3, 2011 at 8:26 pm 1 comment

When does social entrepreneurship start making more harm than good?

Pic: PF
A big part from working with social issues is to understand the pitfalls that these convey. Pablo Fernández a business-management alumni from PUC Chile and Master student from Stanford places upfront the controversy on “first world” NGO’s trying to solve some foreign problems. He reports from Kenya:
“I just came back from Nairobi, Kenya, one of the poorest countries in the world (147 of 182 according to the UN within the countries with data), where we had the chance to visit two of the biggest slums in Nairobi; Mathare and Kibera. People told us that in Kibera there are more NGO’s than toilets. Although this may sound funny, it is completely true; there is almost one or two NGO (more…)

April 6, 2011 at 1:07 am Leave a comment

Designing for real autonomy

Pic: Weekday Market in Weichau, Ghana [CM]

Mobility and the possibility to be ubiquitous should be afforded by the so called “mobile devices”… yet, how autonomous are they? Are batteries meant to last? Are they rechargeable? These pictures where taken in Weichau, Ghana. Close to the frontier with Burkinafaso. Even though the non-autonomy of these artifacts allows the start-up of small entrepreneurs who find the way to make business profit out of it… are these products being democratic enough? Pic: Accra, Ghana. Check on the small sign “We Charge Phones” [CM]

People in rural areas, that do not have access to electricity, are obliged to pay in the day-market for a battery recharge provided by a diesel generator. They actually end paying more than they should, and the usage of their mobile devices is limited. The mobile telephone industry could consider considering the impact they have in places like Ghana [where you can find cell-phone antennas everywhere]. They should afford the real mobility and autonomy of their products if they are really committed to fulfill the needs of these markets [which are not exactly the same that the European or North American ones…]
Pic: Market, Weichau [CM]

March 30, 2011 at 8:35 am Leave a comment

Cycling Social Innovation- Part 1:Morocco

I’ve heard a dozen of times that bicycles foster equality. And actually, I do believe in this statement. Being a cyclist-commuter in my own lands, I have become part of the “obliged” car use here in the States. But back home, in Santiago de Chile [even though, different from what happens in the Netherlands, the population is not really educated towards a bicycle-friendly philosophy] cyclists entail an heterogeneous group of individuals from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Theft and drivers are the downside of biking, at least in Santiago de Chile. Yet, there are well-known community based movements like the “Furiosos Ciclistas” [angry cyclists] that fight for the cyclist’s local rights. In my obsession regarding design and this egalitarian mean of transportation, I’ve been photographing a series of “usage innovations or self-crafted adaptations” coming from different individuals around the world. This first piece is from Morocco 2010 [Marrakech, Casablanca, TizNit, Taroudant, Rabat & Dakhla]. [All pictures taken by CM.]


March 25, 2011 at 4:32 am 1 comment

Low income workers state:”Public services in Chile need more attachment”

Picture: Workshop “Nosotros los Trabajadores” [CM]

On December 2010, Pilar Opazo [Sociology PhD Student at Columbia University’s Center on Organizational Innovation] and I [PhD Student Design-Anthro NC State] decided to launch a workshop with low income workers at INFOCAP [University for low income workers in Chile]. This institution has proven to be an exceptional model of social mobility. Pilar, author of the in-press book “Nosotros Los Trabajadores” [seeks to describe the successful organizational model], which was created using information and studies developed in the Research Center at INFOCAP, wanted to “give a voice” to the workers. Using some of Lassiter’s idea of collaborative ethnography and considering our lack of budget and time frame, Pilar and I conducted a Participative Workshop and a Focus Group to listen and expose the content of the book to a group of this workers. A great and mindful discussion flourished.

Picture: Workshop “Nosotros los Trabajadores” [CM]
In this post, I’d like to share some of the insights given by the workers. We learned so much from them. One of the biggest insights came from the idea that the institution INFOCAP really cares about people. (more…)

January 6, 2011 at 3:18 am 1 comment

Portioning to make products affordable for the BOP

Picture: Kiosk in Cape Coast Ghana [CM]

Affordability of consumer products is not just an issue of “marketeability”, but of understanding that everyone has the right to be considered a “valuable consumer”, and that everyone should have access to them. It was in the frame of a joint venture with Unilever Chile and our Chilean design Studio: Design for Social Innovation, that this topic was raised by one of our students. It has also been a topic commented by some economists such as the deceased CK Prahalad.

Some consumers, such as manual laborers [in the case of South America and Africa] might not have “the cash” to access to large quantities of a certain product. In simple words, what I mean [for what I’ve observed and what I’ve taken from self-performed interviews] is that: some individuals get paid for a week of work [sometimes they do what in Chile we would call “pololos”, that being short-time period of a certain job] and usually that money, is spent weekly. Generally, there is no big salary at the end of the month [which is normally believed to be the standard], or there are not sufficient funds to get the “whole product” [the complete package] once a month. So the consuming behavior is driven by the needs derived of using weekly or daily the money in small quantities for immediate consumption. Picture: Kiosk in Cape Coast Ghana 2010 [CM]

The other issue is, generally, supermarkets are usually not located near to the Bottom of the Pyramid [BOP] populations. So if they would want to get something, they have to spent money in Public Transportation [going and returning]. This could be a critical expense when you are thinking about low-weekly salaries.

For what we’ve seen, in countries like Chile, Perú, Bolivia, Argentina, Mali, Ghana, Brukina Faso, Kenya and others, (more…)

August 30, 2010 at 3:30 pm 1 comment

contact + citing (CC license)

Constanza Miranda PhD(c) design.anthro
* Currently @ DILAB
* Ex.VR @ Stanford's Center for Design Research [DesignXLab]
* Ex.Instructor @ PUC Chile [Design+Engineering]
Use citations ¡Citar es ético!
Creative Commons License
Design for Social Innovation initiative by Constanza Miranda is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at