Design for micro-enterprise: a field study of user preference behavior

DS 87-1 Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 17) Vol 1: Resource Sensitive Design, Design Research Applications and Case Studies, Vancouver, Canada, 21-25.08.2017

Year: 2017
Editor: Anja Maier, Stanko Škec, Harrison Kim, Michael Kokkolaras, Josef Oehmen, Georges Fadel, Filippo Salustri, Mike Van der Loos
Author: Austin-Breneman, Jesse; Yang, Maria
Series: ICED
Institution: 1: University of Michigan, United States of America; 2: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States of America
Section: Resource Sensitive Design, Design Research Applications and Case Studies
Page(s): 219-228
ISBN: 978-1-904670-89-6
ISSN: 2220-4342


Product development serving the Base of the Pyramid (BoP) is an increasing part of many organizations’ growth strategies, from social enterprises to large multi-national companies. In response to this need, research has focused on developing new design approaches for reaching these users. Previous work by the authors identified targeting micro-entrepreneurs as one increasingly used strategy. This field study expands on the previous work by examining micro-entrepreneur purchasing decisions in the public toilet sector in East Africa. Results from interviews with thirty-three franchisees of a public toilet franchise and other stakeholders in the system are presented. Analyses of purchasing practices and interview responses highlight how the micro-entrepreneur’s business strategy is key to the purchasing decisions and therefore should be closely examined by designers.

Keywords: User centred design, Requirements, Business models and considerations


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