May 3, 2017 - The Foundations of Design and Entrepreneurship (FDE) class held a business fair to round off a year of training in problem solving through design thinking and entrepreneurship. In its second year, the course takes freshmen through the ropes of starting a business to address some of society’s most pressing challenges.
The business fair also provided a platform for student teams to share, with the Ashesi community and guests, how they built and run their ventures and how they seek to tackle everyday problems through them.
“The goal of the FDE Business Fair was to provide a medium for the venture teams to summarize their efforts over the year, and develop takeaway points that they can share with an audience,” said Dr. Gordon Adomdza, lead faculty of the FDE course. “We also want people to know about the program and how it influenced student learning.”
On display at the fair were a broad range of business solutions, products and services, ranging from food delivery services, life jackets made from recycled plastic bottle to water filtration technologies.
“We sought out to tackle the problem of access to hygienic water in many parts of Africa, using local communities in Ghana as our control,” said Gerald Labiran '20, whose group created a low-cost filtration system for purifying water. “Our goal was multi-fold; to come up with a product that would reduce the chances of people falling sick from water-borne illnesses and improve both the lives of people in rural and urban homes while simultaneously sustaining an actual startup.”
For several of the students, the class also presented a unique challenge to address complex problems with simple and easy-to-implement solutions, all within a year. One such attempt was a drain cover to prevent the dumping of waste into drains, aimed at addressing the infamous annual flooding problem in Accra.
“We hope to work through construction companies and possibly the government to help implement our drain cover in neighbourhoods across the country,” said Warren Agyare '20. “Not only will the drain covers prevent choked drains that lead to flooding, it will also help reduce breeding of mosquitoes and thus protect people from malaria. From sourcing materials to finding craftsmen to working with stakeholders, we learned to work effectively as a team and with third-party companies.”
While the business fair served as a climax for the class, the FDE team will continue to work with the students on implementing their projects to help make the impact they seek to make.
"This year, we were deliberate in asking the students to develop their post-FDE plans and we are happy to say that majority of the projects are either continuing as projects or as actual companies with smaller teams," added Dr. Adumdza. "If we can help them keep these commitments, we will be in a good place."