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Day 1 – The Impact Week kicks off with fulminant participation

July 04, 2016 – After weeks and months of preparation, the Impact Week Kenya 2016 finally starts! We are very excited and overwhelmed by the participation from students at ANU and other universities in Nairobi. More than 100 students found their way into the newly built Helstrom Building at the ANU main campus.

Right at the beginning of the event, we received a warm welcome from the ANU officials this morning. Prof. Leah Marangu, the ANU's Vice Chancellor and the first woman professor in Kenya in 1978, honored us with a rousing speech, in which she addressed the participants and told them: "My motivation was never about being the first, but when something was disturbing me, I told myself: I will change it so that ten years from now it will never bother anyone again."


"You will learn to really understand people's problems and find a way to overcome them. That's what innovation is all about. That's the core of every good business." – Prof. Leah Marangu, Vice Chancellor, Africa Nazarene University

Few things are certain in life, except that every design thinking session starts with a warm-up. Having said that, you can image how difficult a warm-up with almost 150 people will be. Our moderators Maren-Christin Mueller and Jochen Guertler handled the situation just perfect. While grouping in clusters based on favorite animals solely by imitating their sounds, participants and coaches started to get comfortable with each other. The beginning of a great friendship for some, we dare say!


Design thinking is about understanding the problems and needs of users and building a solution based on those quickly. For someone learning a method, what better way is there than having them see results immediately? During the first session of the workshop, the students realized how fast each one of them was able to develop an idea on a topic they hadn't spent many thoughts on before. In pairs of two – and with the help of the DT booklet – the students embarked on mini design thinking projects and went through the several steps of the process in just two hours. The results are happy and incredulous faces.


This year's Impact Week was again divided into tracks, encouraging participants to develop a broad variety of business ideas. The tracks are: agriculture & food, cosmetics & lifestyle, education, finance, healthcare, mobility, and security. Each track is led by coaches from the German and Australian team as well as professors and teachers from ANU, who were immersed in the design thinking methodology during our train the trainer workshop last weekend.

Each track is in turn divided into smaller teams. The first few hours of the teamwork were dedicated to getting to know each other and figuring out how to work together. Having diverse and and well-functioning teams is a very important part of the design thinking process – and this is true with students from a number of African countries, with different backgrounds and levels of knowledge who participate in this year’s Impact Week.


Once the teams were set, they embarked on the design thinking journey for real. The first stage was the “understand” phase – the teams came up with various topics from their track and discussed which problems surrounded them. For example, thinking of security in Kenya, the teams discussed topics ranging from safe drinking water to safety on the streets, the loss of phones and gadgets as well as security in buildings. And that's only a selection from all the topics that came up.

Each group then chose a problem statement and put together a short questionnaire which they will need when the teams interview real users on the streets of downtown Nairobi tomorrow. We are very excited for the opportunity to head to the City Campus of ANU. This will enable the groups to talk about and expand their first ideas on a strong base of evidence.

Building knowledge sustainably – Train the Trainer @ Impact Week

Wow – two weeks before the event, all tickets for Impact Week 2016 have been sold out! We're happy to see students in Kenya being enthusiastic about innovation and design thinking.

As excited as all of us are to be here – for many of us, it's the first time in Africa, and we're truly overwhelmed by the warm welcome we have received – asante sana! – we want Impact Week to be about people in Kenya, and not about us. To make more Impact Weeks with local ownership possible, we are passing on the knowledge on how to instruct students in the use of the design thinking methodology. Therefore we are offering a two-day train the trainer workshop at ANU. 20 enthusiastic ANU staff are joining us this weekend for in-depth training on the steps of the design thinking process, on coaching skils, and last but not least for lots of fun.


On the first day, the workshop focused on problems and users. What are the problems which new solutions should solve? Understanding them are key to success. Unless a solution alleviates a real pain point, it will not find acceptance in the market. This is where users come into play. Often new products are designed on the drawing board and do not come into contact with the users until they are launched. But how will you know what a product should be like, what it should do without asking the people who will actually be using it? Under the guidance of our Impact Week coaches, the ANU soon-to-be coaches learned to conduct interviews to find out what people want – a great exercise for interrogating assumptions, learning new perspectives, and ultimately strengthen bonds with others.

Rose interviewing

True to the design thinking methods, the teams used up prodigious amounts of post-its to visualize ideas, playfully built teamwork skills, and came up with great ideas on how to improve education in Africa. The first day ended with a round of feedback from all participants on what they liked about the workshop, what they would like to see on day two and how they plan on achieving that. It was a demanding, but fun day for everyone.


The second workshop day was about turning the ideas from day 1 into workable solutions. Most solutions aren't meant for everyone, but target specific user groups. If you are building an app for the elderly, large, easily readable fonts will be more important than fancy graphics, and if you are designing a service for high school students, usage will spike in the afternoon. Visualizing facts about your target user group is key to defining the most important features of a solution, which is why mapping out the user persona is also an important step in design thinking.

Once you have settled on what your solution will do, it's time for prototyping – no idea will really gain traction if you can't see it, feel it, play with it. But don't be scared – a prototype doesn't have to be fancy, it doesn't have to look perfect. Instead, it helps visualize things using very simple methods like paper and glue, and as a result, possibilities and limitations will become more discernible. But see for yourself:


The workshop culminated in the teams presenting their ideas and their prototypes. There were some amazing performances! Kudos to teams education, security, healthcare and cosmetics in particular! We are impressed by what the local coaches have achieved in just two days. Some of them will be putting their newly acquired skills as design thinking facilitators into practice right away, at Impact Week 2016. A special thanks for everyone who gave moderator Jochen, who had his birthday on the first day of the workshop, such an impressive and heartfelt blessing!

Our arrival in Nairobi – let’s get ready for “Train the Trainer”

UPDATE: Africa Nazarene University – Nairobi – Kenya – 8.30 pm


Today, 25 people from all over Germany and Switzerland finally met at the Campus of ANU. We are very excited and happy to be here and meet a lot of inspiring people.

Our first impression: We are overwhelmed by the warm hospitality of the ANU staff! Thank you!

After a very welcoming lunch and dinner, we got to know the beautiful main campus of ANU and started to prepare ourselves and the room of the "Train the Trainer" session. In the next two days, we will have an intensive training session with professors of ANU. Our main goal is to enable them to coach different innovation techniques within Design Thinking. 

Now we are looking forward to our first session tomorrow! Good night from Nairobi :)

We will keep you posted on Facebook and Twitter #impactweekkenya



We say THANK YOU to our Sponsors of Impact Week Kenya 2016!


This Impact Week is only possible with the help of many other Supporters – a big thank you goes out to

  • GABAL Verlag – for authorizing our book „Design Thinking in a Nutshell”
  • Johannes Meyer – for being the co-author of „Design Thinking in a Nutshell“
  • Christian Gräf – for the layout of „Design Thinking in a Nutshell“ as well as the workbook for our “Train the Trainer”
  • Pauline Tonhauser – for your valuable input to the workbook for "Train the Trainer"
  • HPI School of Design Thinking, especially Uli Weinberg and Claudia Nicolai, as well as SAP Design & Co-Innovation Center – the students will love to work with the materials you provided to us

A special thank you to Christine Wolf and Kathrin Arnold from Kirche in Aktion for the great support in the organization of the Impact Week and all the small things one need to think of.

And last but not least: Dear Impact Week Alumni, thank you for your tipps and recommendations from your last year's experience.

Today, we arrived in Kenya and are looking very much forward to our time here. Having your support with us, enables us to move even further, work more deeply interconnected with local economy and students – and make an impact. Thank you!