SPRING Accelerator

SPRING is a pioneering accelerator that supports businesses whose products and services have the potential to transform the lives of adolescent girls. Funded by DFID, USAID, and the Nike Foundation, SPRING represents a revolutionary approach to development: supporting market-based solutions with human centered design to address of the world’s most pressing challenges at scale.

SPRING’s impact goes beyond the success of its commercial ventures; by providing promising ventures with funding, world-class mentorship, strategic guidance and design expertise, the program fosters a broader entrepreneurial ecosystem where economic success and social impact are inextricably linked.

As the lead partner in a global consortium, fuseproject designed all elements of the accelerator, from the program architecture and key interventions to the participant experience and extensive, proprietary curriculum.

strategy

We built SPRING using a human-centered methodology, recognizing SPRING’s diverse group of stakeholders and users, the power of prototyping and iteration, and a bias towards action, and real tangible outcomes. Our work included:

Program Design and Implementation: We surveyed the business support ecosystem for each cohort, conducting a thorough market analysis and field research with diverse stakeholders to understand the local context. We then developed our curriculum and activities to ensure that the support we provided was truly mapping to entrepreneurs’ unmet needs and that it complemented existing services.

Curriculum and Experience Design: To facilitate hands-on learning, we developed a proprietary curriculum, with 8-10 modules delivered at each boot camp. Topics varied from design-centric (“Understanding Users”, “Building a Strong Brand”) to business driven (“Growth Marketing”, “Designing for Scale”). Fuseproject strategists and designers delivered the curriculum in 1-2 hour interactive working sessions and facilitated discussion for each cohort.

User Research: We believe the best businesses are iteratively built and improved based on user feedback and stakeholder input. To that end, Fuseproject went in-field with the entrepreneurs to gather insights from the girls and other key stakeholders in their target markets. This research generated important learnings that informed the evolution of the product/service/operating model.

Business Prototyping: We worked with each participant to build a viable and scalable next-gen business prototype — a holistic evolution that incorporated their product and brand design into a business model that included supply chain partners, distribution channels, and financial projections.

brand

Having a brand that is intentionally designed at all touch points is imperative to any business, but especially a start-up seeking to build awareness and encourage trial. In our research, we found that even where resources are not as abundant, people are still drawn to good design. For each business in SPRING, we worked with participants to analyze every touch point of their brands – from name and logo to corporate collateral and packaging. In a series of hands-on working sessions at our design bootcamps, our brand team worked with each participant to develop a brand language and a cohesive visual narrative that represents the core of their business.

experience

Many of the SPRING businesses utilize digital platforms, either through a website or an SMS service which is extremely common in many parts of East Africa and South Asia. Having a digital platform that is both seamless to navigate and aesthetically attractive is important, especially for audiences who are trying to navigate their way to secure finances, doctor’s appointments, etc. Our digital team worked hands-on with participant businesses to look at every aspect of their digital designs – including architecture and system wire-frames, UI/UX, and website compositions.

social impact

Between 2015 and 2019, 4 SPRING cohorts brought together 75 business from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. The results are new products, new capital flows, new innovation capacity, and new business models that recognize the potential of girls as agents of economic and social change. As of May, 2019, SPRING businesses had scaled to reach girls with products and services enabling them to earn, learn, save, and stay safe.

product

Physical product is a key element in many of the businesses going through SPRING, in areas such as hygiene, health and safety, education, food and shelter. Having physical products that are designed to be efficiently produced, intuitive to use, and desirable for the end user is imperative to any business, but especially to emerging start-ups. We worked with the SPRING entrepreneurs who have physical products as a core offering of their business to look at every element of their industrial design, in order to ensure that their products will be most effective to their cause. Working hands-on, our designers helped sketch and prototype new designs for the entrepreneurs to then test in-field.

Recognition

Awards

  • International Design Excellence Awards

    • Bronze - SPRING Accelerator, Design Strategy, 2018
  • SPARK! Awards

    • Gold - SPRING Accelerator, Cause Design, 2016
  • Fast Company Innovation by Design Awards

    • Finalist - SPRING Accelerator, Social Good, 2016

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