ENKAJI : UX/UI
When I travelled to Longido, Tanzania in 2015 for my thesis project, I found myself surrounded by passionate entrepreneurs and tight-knit collective communities everywhere I went. As I wandered around the villages, I watched groups of Maasai women try to sell jewellery to passing tourists in hopes of making a sale, and I knew I wanted to create something to support women entrepreneurs and help empower their businesses. I decided to design an e-commerce platform consisting of an app, an online store, and branding that sought to promote financial literacy and economic independence for the Maasai women of Tanzania.
Researched and interviewed the ladies in Tanzania to gain accurate representation of their needs and wants
Designed the app, online store, and packaging to suit the users
Tested paper prototypes of the app and website on potential vendors and customers before finalizing the design
Maasai women have limited means of earning income and yet, they’re expected to maintain a house, and to provide for themselves and their children. Their jewellery revenue fluctuates heavily with the tourist season, and since their market access is limited, they don’t have the opportunity to reach their business potential to pull themselves out of extreme poverty.
My team consisted of myself and one business student. We looked at social costs, made a competitive analysis, researched the target market, looked at key resources and key partners.
My process included sketches, prototypes, ethics applications, product data sheets, mind maps, test plans, and comprehensive research reports.
I named it Enkaji (Maasai for “home”) because I wanted to put Western customers directly into the homes of the ladies in Tanzania to catch a glimpse of a life so far removed from their own.
Once the first brainstorming stage was finished, I travelled to Tanzania to refine the concept and to propose my idea to the Longido village counsel. Out of the 7 teams that presented, the council would select the top 3 most feasible projects and actualize them.
My final concept was an e-commerce system with 3 main components:
HOW THE SYSTEM WORKS:
To close the technological gap between the Western world and Longido, an app was made for the Maasai women to upload their jewellery online.
Since it was catered to users with limited tech experience and varying levels of literacy, the app was simple and used visual communication.
THE ONLINE STORE
The e-commerce website would bring Western consumers closer to the Maasai marketplace by providing access to the women’s traditional jewellery.
Through Enkaji’s transparency model, users can learn about the platform's entire business concept.
For individuals who could only afford the minimum resources, a modular, cost-effective package was created to maximize use of material.
The construction of the packaging allows it to hold many differently shaped jewellery from earrings to large necklaces. This was the proof of concept:
The Longido village counsel chose not to actualize my project because there were others that were more easily executable. However, the concept was well received and it did pique interest with the Maasai women. I have high hopes that it will be revisited again in the future.
What I would do differently :
Test out more concepts with the Maasai women
Test out more concepts with the Western target market
Research how nonprofits fit into established e-commerce business model (i.e. Shopify) and leverage their pre-existing network and technology