(1) Be clear about your target user group. Do you primarily have an urban focus? Could you include users in more rural areas? Can the skills businesses associated with agricultural inputs or processing?
BFL deploys Street Business School (SBS) in urban, rural and semi-urban centers. The specific mix primarily depends on our strategic training partnerships, including the new youth-focused partnership we are proposing. Of our current portfolio of eight training partners, three have a rural focus. BeadforLife has the most experience delivering SBS in an urban center. We also have experience delivering the program in semi-urban (Lira) and rural areas, including rapid rural prototyping of SBS in partnership with the Bulogo Women’s Group in 2014.
Our SBS business training is not sector-specific. The acquired skills can be applied to agricultural inputs, processing, or most informal (and even some formal) business sectors. Many of our trainees have created businesses related to agriculture.
(2) The types of businesses are predominately female-oriented. Perhaps think about curriculum and training that will be transferrable to multiple types of businesses.
The program’s first module, “getting out of your comfort zone”, leads trainees through a process that addresses gender and traditional stereotypes of “women” and “men”-oriented business. The program also integrates presentation by alumni such as successful brick-makers and others whose businesses are considered the traditional domain of males. SBS empowers women to make and to own the decision about what business will work best for them. We do not advocate for any particular type of business. We feel that even more sensitivity to gender bias can be learned and explored during the coaching sessions and in SBS Expansion moving forward.
(3) Do you have a User Experience Map? Understanding the needs of your users is the key to human-centered design. We encourage you to do this exercise and map out your user's journey. Think about how the needs of a 15 year old are much different than a 35 year old woman.
Thank you for the recommendation to include the User Experience Map. We have added it to the submission. We have begun to understand the specific needs of the younger cohort through rapid prototyping with a trainee group, all under age 20 (BFL only works with young women 18 years and older to remain in compliance with labor laws). A critical difference between this cohort and older women is access to capital and baseline levels of income: many young women in the prototype group had zero income! Other key differences include: family (dependents), transport (to access the training), and far less self-confidence to succeed as an entrepreneur. The key reason BFL is applying to work with a youth expert through IDEO is to better understand the needs specific to this cohort, and to refine their user experience accordingly. We would greatly benefit from this support and partnership in order to create a customized experience for our younger participants.
(4) Where, primarily do you see this concept being developed? In cities, small towns, in rural areas or both? Do you think there is a demand from girls for job skills that are less typically 'female' than those proposed. What would they like to develop skills in?
BeadforLife deploys Street Business School (SBS) through partners in urban, rural and semi-urban centers. We will continue to deliver the program in all areas, though the specific mix will depend to a large extent on our strategic training partnerships. The feedback to date is that SBS may be poised to have even more impact in rural settings, on account of there being less small business competition than in the urban core. SBS expansion through these partnerships is highly monitored. We do this to ensure SBS impact can be maintained at scale, regardless of the setting in which it is deployed. This cautious approach to partnerships and quality reflect BFL’s commitment to human-centered design, and is a key factor in the success of the program to date.
Younger women in our programs, and in partner programs, are indeed interested in skill-specific job training (ex: how to make candles, soap, etc.). However, SBS provides a framework for business training (how to sell and profit from candles, soap, etc.), not skill-specific training. Early in our prototyping process, we tested a skills-based training module. We decided against continuing this module because the breadth of interest was simply too broad. To accommodate their skills-based interest, SBS can provide trainees with reference to other groups that provide specific skills. Additionally, we are linked with almuni businesses where we can make referrals for informal internships. Another opportunity in working with a youth-focused partner is to broaden this referral and internship network.