November 12, 2011
Since September 2011, I've been wholly immersed in the cyber cafe industry in Sub Saharan Africa, specifically peri urban and rural Kenya in East Africa. We were tasked to assess the market and value the opportunity space for our client Village Telco, a social enterprise start up whose mission is to enable affordable access to voice and data communications in challenging environments. Since their intended target audience was to be cyber cafes (internet cafes) and this industry is very much a grassroots mom-and-pop corner store and part of the informal economy, little information was available that was easily accessible.
We took inspiration for our qualitative approach and methodology from the field of human centered design, specifically design planning (now also known as innovation planning), as taught by the Institute of Design, IIT Chicago. Our outcomes from the field were intended to inform Village Telco's market entry strategy, including pricing and business model recommendations for their Mesh Potato device.
We were also permitted to share our insights openly on the blog, a factor that was much appreciated given that the focus of the study allowed us a wide ranging glimpse of how the internet, the mobile phone and communications technology was being adopted across significantly different parts of the country, allowing us a worm's eye view of how innovation diffuses across socio-economic and cultural boundaries, in real time.
Here are all the posts I wrote during this period, in chronological order:
Exploring the Market Forces Acting on the Cyber Cafe Industry in Kenya
Mapping Opportunity: Internet penetration by population in African countries
Socially networked mystery shopfront
VoIP centers in Old Mombasa
Inserting tones into your iPod
You'll Find me on Facebook
Pondering the Sustainability of the Cyber Cafe Industry and its Future
Innovation at the Small Enterprise Level
The Impact of Mainstreaming and Commodification of Cyber Cafe Services
The Increasing Importance of User Experience in Cyber Cafes
Postcard from Kajiado: Cheap Chinese Phones and the Internet
Reflecting on the mobile internet in Kenya
Leveraging Ignorance versus Enabling Knowledge
Patterns of Behaviour: Trade-offs in Time and Money
The Role of the Cyber Cafe
At the Inflection Point of High Growth to Mature Plateau
Estimating Price in Untapped Markets of the Informal Economy
In Conclusion: Lessons from the Village Telco project in Kenya
(and a later synthesis, Our two shillings worth on the Kenyan ICT Revolution)