Around the world, people with disabilities (PWD) comprise approximately 15% of the global population, yet exist as some of the most marginalized groups within many societies. In some cases, an inability to fully participate in society is due to the severity of a disability. However, much more often these inabilities are a result of an environment that has not been properly adapted to meet the needs of this section of the population. In developing countries, the inclusion of PWD can be especially difficult to achieve, as environmental barriers such as a lack of proper infrastructure are much more prevalent. There are many spheres of life that people with disabilities are excluded from, meaning that inclusion is a challenge that is both diverse and large in scale. Inclusion must also be dealt with in an urgent manner in order to halt the cycle between disability and poverty that leaves almost 10,000 PWD dead globally every day as a result of extreme poverty.
Enable: An Online Platform for People with a Disability in Kenya
After suffering an accident in which he lost his right arm and leg, the life of Joachim Schoss was profoundly changed. These events sparked the beginnings of his fight for the improvement of the lives of people with disabilities, as he noticed a huge gap in relevant information. He first began the foundation MyHandicap, eventually followed by EnableMe, both of which are committed to providing resources that enable people with disabilities.
EnableMe is an organization focused on seeing every human for their abilities rather than their disabilities, and which aims to provide the tools that enable people to live to their full potential. Our challenge is to work within communities to discover the specific and individual needs of people with disabilities and work to create an online platform and community that provide relevant information and resources.
The online community
EnableMe is running a platform and online community for persons with a disability. Here people with disabilities can find information, help each other, be active in discussion forums, do online advocacy together, etc.
With this worldwide online platform and community EnableMe wants to enable 1 billion people with a disability. This vision is based on the motto and purpose of EnableMe: “All human beings have some sort of disability. We however want to focus on abilities and enable people to live to their full potential.”
A lack of information means people with a disability are often misunderstood by their communities, families or don’t know their medical conditions themselves. EnableMe provides the needed information on an easily accessible platform and makes people connect through their community. “Information is Power” as said by EnableMe.
The next step
The CFIA student team sees its main task as building up EnableMe for the anticipated launch on January 11 2020 and adding to the content of the website. The main tasks retain a focus on the empowerment of youth with a disability. On an ongoing basis, the team creates content that EnableMe can provide such as information, blogs, art, and other ways to connect and educate PWD. To enrich this content the student team contacted people willing and able to provide content, co-created content with community members, researched further information, and brainstormed successful ways to reach out to youth with a disability.
Furthermore, the student team has been working on promotional activities such as creating a video for the company in hopes to attract visitors, donors and partners. Additionally, the team has been assisting the Social Media Team in Kenya with designs and a social media push for the launch of the website in hopes of reaching a large audience to ensure impact.
Lastly, a project that the student team has been working on for EnableMe is about DIY solutions for PWD in lower resource settings. This project aims to provide the information to the user about which solutions are out there, for their specific disability, that they can make themselves using limited resources or in collaboration with a local makerspace. Through this, the student team and EnableMe want to create some agency for PWD to find and create their own solutions catered to their context. This is done with the help of pre-existing solutions that have been compiled to one place to facilitate a simple search.
Frugal Innovation aspect and objectives
The primary aspects of this field assignment that entail Frugal Innovation are the affordability and accessibility of the service, as well as a focus on the functions that provide the highest customer benefits. Additionally, EnableMe is a platform that aims to co-create with local communities in order to create specialized content that fit the needs of the target group, and thereby produce optimized performance. EnableMe has begun to develop a service for partners in low- and middle-income countries, and by doing so, they aim to make their service and information accessible for consumers at the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP). This accessibility will increase by providing free and low-cost services. In order to gain a holistic perspective, both the price for the platform and the price for the internet connection must be considered.
Taking all of these aspects into account, EnableMe aims to provide a simple solution as there is no dependency on the type of internet device used to access the information, nor on ownership due to the fact that Kenya contains numerous internet cafes. Furthermore, Kenya has relatively good connectivity thus allowing EnableMe to reach a broad potential audience. In the creation of the content for the online platform the students have to consider the price and availability of the internet and of mobile data to ensure that the platform will not require a large amount of data or time to load. This means that there is a need to focus on the minimization of clicks and webpages reloads before a user can find the desired information. Co-creation with local communities allows EnableMe to not only gain content created by community members, but additionally allows EnableMe to become more well known in these places. Partner organizations will also help build and expand the EnableMe network, allowing for the spread of innovation through processes such as word of mouth.
Project Team 2020-2021
- Matthijs Nederveen, Enable Me
- Iram Bahawal, EnableMe Kenya
- Dr. André Leliveld, Leiden University
Student Research Team
- Vivian Graham (UL – International Studies)
- Pleun de Goede (TUD – Industrial Design)
- Sarah Fürstenberg (EUR – Management of International Social Challenges)