Design that Matters’ innovative approach and designs transform the social sector and flip traditional notions of design services on their head
By World Bank estimates, two-thirds of the world population lives on less than $2 per day. These communities lack access to such basic necessities as clean water, affordable health care and basic education. In order for these individuals to improve their quality of life—through productive work, community organization and political participation—they must receive more than direct charity and aid. The poor must be given the tools and opportunities to improve themselves, their families and their communities. This is the issue that social enterprise addresses in serving those at the “bottom of the pyramid.” Social entrepreneurs are change agents for the social sector. Social enterprises are usually more effective in addressing root causes than are supranational NGOs because they are better integrated into the societies they serve, and know the specific needs of their beneficiaries, but they lack access to well-matched design services that can help them improve their services and scale.
Designers are looking for ways to make a positive impact. A 2012 Designer’s Accord blog notes, “there has been an unprecedented surge of interest in the field of design for social impact, or as it has become known – social design. Designers are looking for ways in which to incorporate more meaningful social change work into their practices.” In this tight economy, companies are increasingly transforming into virtual organizations, creating a mass of self-employed contractors that are looking for meaningful work.
Affordability is the biggest obstacle between the design and social sectors; both affordability of design services and the cost of implementing the results. In an effort to make design services more affordable, many firms are offering smaller and smaller scopes of work, handing off virgin ideas that leave huge implementation gaps social enterprises do not know how to fill. In other cases, designers from the 1st world miss the mark by being overreliant on their own interpretations of impenetrable foreign markets creating an overemphasis on low-cost solutions in lieu of other critical user benefits, and leading to a lack of user adoption.
Design that Matters harnesses and empowers the top-tier, untapped, passionate talent in the design world to create real impact for poor communities in the developing world. DtM has a decade of experience figuring out which challenges in the developing world can be influenced by designs created through a collaboration of 1st world designers and 3rd world communities, and which challenges have a cost/benefit equation that just does not balance out. DtM’s world class designs are creating a ripple effect throughout the world.