Archive

Technology

September 20, 2012

Our first wave of pilot testing ended on Tuesday the 18th with the holistic examination. Though changes and modifications need to be made, we are pleased with the initial results. Here are some highlights:

  • More than a 20 point gain in overall knowledge of entrepreneuership, financial management, and professional etiquette from 57% to 80%. The biggest gains are in professional etiquette, customer are, marketing, and human resources
  • 100% of them agree that the material is much more engaging , more applicable and relatable.
  • 32% of the students are getting job placements of their choice.
  • Peak time of system engagement: 5-8:30 AM and 6-10 PM- times at which physical classes do not convene.
  • There is no significant disparity in performance between the two genders. However, females tend to score higher in professional etiquette and customer care while males tend to score higher on questions about strategies and operations.

You can find the results in their entirety on our website tomorrow.

We will continue to monitor and follow up with the job performance and prospects of our students for the next year.  The course content will also be analyzed as we continue our talks and holistic evaluation with our graduates.

Our second wave of 235 students is currently in the progress of taking the course and will be taking the holistic examination in mid-October.

If you have any questions, please email Evanna at evanna@gmaarifa.com

August 30, 2012

Written by Evanna

The ambition and level of dedication of g.Maarifa youths never cease to impress me. On Tuesday, we went back to one of the pilot testing sites since it was the midway point of our testing. They like the content and the technology, although they did point out some bugs that we have been battling but are now fixed. They said that the are engrossed by the content because all the case studies made the units read more like a story than instructions. But mostly, they were eager to continue with the course so that they can start looking for jobs.

Many are devoting 2-3 hours everyday on the course material, quizzing each other on the content outside the unit quizzes they are given, and practicing the skills taught to them in our professional etiquette units. They are wondering if we have courses that will deepen their knowledge in areas such as accounting, journalism, and hospitality. Their thirst for hard-to-access information is enormous and their dedication to learn the hard-to-access information is mind blowing.

These youths are unemployed not because they are not willing to work hard or because they are uneducated. On the contrary, they are working hard everyday to scrape together enough money for them and their family members. They just do not have enough opportunities. We seek to change that. We want to give them the opportunities to prove their talent and potential and open new doors for them. That is the mission of g.Maarifa.

 

Written by Innocent Basso

Nairobi, Kenya-

My name is Innocent Basso, and I am interning with g.maarifa. I am a rising sophomore at the University of Chicago, focusing on Economics. Today I joined the g.Maarifa staff for field research in Kibera and met with two focus groups in order to introduce and test our SMS technology. There were ten participants in each group. They were put in pairs which received one testing phone. The attendance was very assuring although, not surprisingly, a few members walked in a few minutes late.

We began by introducing the basic idea of the technology. Today’s info texts were based on easy, non- contextual material developed to familiarize the focus groups with the technology. The pairs easily registered themselves by sending a text with a specific code to a number we gave them. From then on, the pairs proceeded to read the texts they received and to answer the questions when they were prompted. This process went very smoothly for both focus groups, but of course there were a few requests for clarification, for example, whether to reply in uppercase or lowercase letters.

At the end of both sessions, we asked the participants for feedback on the technology. Most of them were happy with the technology, and said they found it very easy to use. We observed that the time lapse between confirmation of enrollment and the first info text was a bit long and we are working on cutting it down. We also received questions such as if they would be able to use the technology on their own phones, and we said yes and assured them that the technology is compatible with all phones.

We ended the sessions with the discussion about the pricing of the product. We were interested in knowing what the participant felt was a suitable price they were willing to pay. To my surprise, a majority were willing to pay a higher price than it is set, that is 700 Kshs, some even saying they were willing to give up to 2000 Kshs. Overall, today’s sessions were very successful and helpful to us and the focus groups in understanding better the strengths and shortcomings of the product.

Written by Innocent Basso

Nairobi, Kenya-

My name is Innocent Basso, and I am interning with g.maarifa. I am a rising sophomore at the University of Chicago, focusing on Economics. Today I joined the g.Maarifa staff for field research in Kibera and met with two focus groups in order to introduce and test our SMS technology. There were ten participants in each group. They were put in pairs which received one testing phone. The attendance was very assuring although, not surprisingly, a few members walked in a few minutes late.

We began by introducing the basic idea of the technology. Today’s info texts were based on easy, non- contextual material developed to familiarize the focus groups with the technology. The pairs easily registered themselves by sending a text with a specific code to a number we gave them. From then on, the pairs proceeded to read the texts they received and to answer the questions when they were prompted. This process went very smoothly for both focus groups, but of course there were a few requests for clarification, for example, whether to reply in uppercase or lowercase letters.

At the end of both sessions, we asked the participants for feedback on the technology. Most of them were happy with the technology, and said they found it very easy to use. We observed that the time lapse between confirmation of enrollment and the first info text was a bit long and we are working on cutting it down. We also received questions such as if they would be able to use the technology on their own phones, and we said yes and assured them that the technology is compatible with all phones.

We ended the sessions with the discussion about the pricing of the product. We were interested in knowing what the participant felt was a suitable price they were willing to pay. To my surprise, a majority were willing to pay a higher price than it is set, that is 700 Kshs, some even saying they were willing to give up to 2000 Kshs. Overall, today’s sessions were very successful and helpful to us and the focus groups in understanding better the strengths and shortcomings of the product.

May 15, 2012– Kibera Slums, Nairobi

We went old-school with our MVP as we tested it in the field today at Kibera. Due to the lack of electricity, projectors, electronic equipment, etc, we decided to draw out every screen on a scratchpad…at the end, we all got really good at drawing rectangles.

The participants loved the product and gave us great feedback on what the content should include and which internship placements they want the most. We even got a few of them to help us reduce texts since abbreviations in texts are done based on local pronunciations and something that the entire  g.Maarifa cannot do properly. We have taken their suggestions back to our developers and hope that we can build a workable prototype by the end of June. The attitude of the participants was also catching. They buzzed at the possibility of finally learning how to get a job and how to find a business that is lucrative to build. A surprising amount of them emphasized that they wanted to learn professional etiquette.

May 15, 2012– Kibera Slums, Nairobi

We went old-school with our MVP as we tested it in the field today at Kibera. Due to the lack of electricity, projectors, electronic equipment, etc, we decided to draw out every screen on a scratchpad…at the end, we all got really good at drawing rectangles.

The participants loved the product and gave us great feedback on what the content should include and which internship placements they want the most. We even got a few of them to help us reduce texts since abbreviations in texts are done based on local pronunciations and something that the entire  g.Maarifa cannot do properly. We have taken their suggestions back to our developers and hope that we can build a workable prototype by the end of June. The attitude of the participants was also catching. They buzzed at the possibility of finally learning how to get a job and how to find a business that is lucrative to build. A surprising amount of them emphasized that they wanted to learn professional etiquette.

April 5, 2012– Ayany, Kibera slums, Nairobi

Calisto and Leah gathered 22 youths who have not completed secondary school and are unemployed. All of them have grown up in Kibera Slums. The majority of them are orphans who are responsible for feeding the mouths of six or seven of their sibilings and children. Despite their youth and education level, they are perceived to be the leaders of Ayany due to their leadership skills and their ability to convince others to stay out of trouble. “It is hard not to cave to social pressure,” one of them told me, “drugs can be bought easily for 100 bob [around USD $1.1], and people often get drunk by 8 AM in the morning. But we know that if we get trapped by drugs, alcohol, and other vices, our sibilings can no longer go to school and we can no longer feed them. We hustle the streets. Our little sisters, brothers, and children cannot.”

When I ask them how they manage to make a living if they do not have jobs, they said that creativity is the key. A lot of them go door to door and offer domestic services, sell arbitraged goods, and depend on NGOs. All want to get jobs, but 92% said that they do not know how. They do not know how to communicate strategically and do not have the skills to start their own businesses, which 60% said is their dream job. Others want to be social workers, journalists, radio talkshow hosts, engineers, etc.

After talking with them for one hour, we decided that they were the perfect participants for the initial pilot of our program. We pitched  the program and took their suggestions. They walked out of the room excited at the prospects of a job and determined to learn the curriculum. We walked out of the room determined to create a high quality product that will fulfill their needs and one with highest value proposition.