Montreal (Canada) – Every project has its challenges. Guided by those who responded to our December eNews Opinion Poll, we asked our World Design Impact Prize finalists to share some of the challenges they had to overcome in order to deliver successful projects to their communities and abroad.

Projects that serve the greater public and strive to positively impact the lives of citizens in a given community often face the challenge of convincing the local population that a new appliance or large-scale machine will help improve their daily lives. This was the case with the Bahikhaata developed in the US, for rural India. Akshay Sharma and his team of design students had to prove the long-term benefits of their financial literacy tool for women to government departments and NGOs. Mr. Sharma shared the good news that, “One ministry in the state of Rajasthan has accepted our proposal to integrate “Bahikhaata – A financial literacy solution” as part of their training program during the formation as well as training of newly formed self help groups.”

The Community Cooker in Kenya faced similar obstacles. Doubters found their large-scale cooker to be “too simple” and the community had to be convinced of its benefits before it organised itself to collect solid waste and manage the cooking schedule. The communities also had to prove the versatility of the cooker.  With 99% combustion efficiency, it eliminates waste, provides stove-tops for the community residents to cook their meals, sterilises water, provides lunches to school children and can be adapted to different uses based on the community that adopts it.

Nokero, the company that produces a solar light bulb that aims to eliminate the use of Kerosene lamps, overcame a challenge of rural distribution. They collaborated with entrepreneurs, organisations and governments in countries that would benefit from the N200 light bulbs. These partnerships are currently allowing them to source creative and appropriate ways to distribute this technology to those who need it the most. Steve Katsaros, inventor and founder of Nokero explained, “for example, in India, we have partnered with Eureka Forbes Ltd who is using their network of 100 ‘water shops’ and about 7,000 salespeople to introduce non-kerosene lighting to the 289 million Indians without electricity.” Having developed a winning recipe of price, features and quality, surmounting a distribution hurdle will allow them to share N200 light with the world.

There are also industrial design challenges that arise and elements that need to be moulded around the communities they will serve. The Chulha stove, created by Phillips Design and currently implemented in India and East Africa had to be re-examined by the team due to the scalability of the model and the different cooking habits in each region. By listening to feedback from the users and making modifications to the Chulha, the stove will better serve its intended audience.

Despite these hurdles, all of the World Design Impact Prize finalists are confident it has resulted in stronger, market-ready products. Mr. Sharma concluded by adding, “I am absolutely thrilled to say that what started as a five week exploration with few design students and a professor is going to have direct, positive impact in the lives of thousand of women in rural parts of Rajasthan.”

Over the course of the World Design Impact Prize, we also asked all participants for a brief explanation of their project, how receiving the Prize would raise awareness of their project and further develop its impact, and how their project has created a better world through design.  Read the responses to these questions and more here: