Ji A You / Designmatters at Art Center College of Design
GiraDora: Safe Agua
Innovation Center, Un Techo Para Mi Pais
GiraDora: Safe Agua
So much going for it–a great concept that works on all the required levels to be a success.
GiraDora: Safe Agua
GiraDora, a human-powered washer and spin dryer, increases the efficiency and improves the experience of hand-washing clothes for women living without access to running water. The user sits on the drum-like appliance and pumps the pedal with her foot, to agitate, clean, rinse, then spin-dry clothes. Local assembly and an innovative business plan with three revenue streams for micro-entrepreneurs provide supplemental income. For under $40, GiraDora’s comfortable and ergonomic operation more than doubles productivity, increases health, instills dignity, and affords opportunities to begin breaking the poverty cycle.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you? Who is the at-risk population, and what behavior do you seek to change in this population?
Our partner, a prominent South American NGO, challenged us to create products to alleviate water poverty in the slums of Lima, Peru — for real-world implementation and potential scalability up to 1 million people.
During field research in the Lima’s Cerro Verde slum, we discovered that families’ livelihoods and futures depend on clean clothes: whether work uniforms or a child’s school uniform, the clothes needed to be presentable. But with no running water or drainage, and unpaved, muddy conditions, the burden of laundry fell on women.
GiraDora addresses the burdens of hand-washing clothes for the nearly 1/2 of the world population without running water:
1. TIME: Hand-washing clothes is a time intensive chore which takes up to 6 hours/day, 3-5 times a week. This is equivalent to a part time job on top of the women’s many other responsibilities.
2. HEALTH RISKS: We identified several health risks associated with hand-washing clothes including: tenosynovitis from wringing clothes; chronic lower back pain from squatting; hand pain from cold water; asthma as moldy clothes take up to 3 weeks to dry in winter
3. WATER USE: Like many slum-dwellers, families in Cerro Verde pay 10 times more for water than people in the city center. GiraDora saves families money, by eliminating 1 rinse cycle & facilitating re-use of water.
4. POVERTY: Create opportunities to generate income and overcome poverty.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
Based on our observations in the field, we established our design intent: to increase the efficiency and improve the experience of hand-washing clothes. Our research and analysis lead to additional criteria:
RADICAL AFFORDABILITY: The product should be affordable to people earning $4-10 per day, with a target cost of 1/5th of competing washers and spinners on the market.
INCOME GENERATING: Our design should also provide people means to generate income, to not only offset the user’s initial investment, but also to provide a vehicle for breaking the cycle of poverty
USER EXPERIENCE: More than just improving the process of washing clothes, our design needs to address the current maladies caused by hand-washing clothes, and consider user experience and preferences. Our design cannot sacrifice the user in order to achieve the results, but must address both the complaints voiced by the women and the more subtle observations we made during research.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
FIELD RESEARCH: GiraDora is the product of rigorous exploration, beginning with a 10-day intensive field research trip to Cerro Verde, a 30,000 person slum perched on the hills surrounding Lima, Peru, without access to running water or basic services.
PATTERNS & OBSERVATIONS: Following the research trip, we took our findings and began to analyze the data to discover patterns in both behavior and consumption. Where these two patterns intersected provided opportunities for design. After establishing the largest opportunity in hand-washing clothes, we proceeded with trend analysis on a macro, meso and micro level, to benchmark the current washing product landscape.
FIELD TESTING & CO-CREATION: After initial rounds of design exploration, we sent an early washing prototype along with a drying prototype to Cerro Verde for field testing by the same community where we conducted field research. The families in Peru responded to these working prototypes and shared their own ideas. Immediately, the women identified the highest value in combining our washing and drying prototypes into a single device. This level of interaction with end users afforded for insights that fundamentally shifted our design goals and drove the final design of a combined washer+spin-dryer.
ITERATIVE PROTOTYPING: Based on lessons learned from our own testing and user feedback from the field, we are continuing to improve the function, ease of use, and aesthetics of our working prototype.
PILOT TESTING: The revised prototype is currently undergoing a second round of testing in the slums of Chile, with support from our NGO partner’s Santiago, Chile office. Our surveys focus on qualitative and quantitative design feedback, as well as pricing and market segment info.
VISUAL APPEAL: To align with Peruvian aesthetics, we combined modern clean form language with rugged, functional elements from water barrels common in slums. We based the color palette on Peruvian “Cultura Chicha,” known for by its bright colors and folk-inspired patterns.
MANUFACTURING & AFFORDABILITY: Social innovation though leader Paul Polak’s principles guided our target price of $40, equivalent to 1/5 the cost of an electric spin dryer in the developed market. We minimized costs by repurposing the drive pedal mechanism from an existing product, sources for $3 from an overseas manufacturer. Following another round of field testing, we will determine the most appropriate manufacturing strategy: overseas manufacturing with drop shipping to target country, or in-country manufacturing with local distribution.
BUSINESS & EXPERT CONSULTANTS: Our team includes a MBA student to develop our business strategy. We have further consulted with manufacturing experts, social entrepreneurship venture consultant, and the director of a prominent Society & Business lab.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
DESIGN INNOVATION: GiraDora is the only human-powered combined washer and spin dryer for families earning $4-10/day. Current electric spin dryers and manual washers are either too expensive or are not marketed to this demographic.
USER BENEFITS – PRODUCTIVITY & HEALTH: GiraDora’s comfortable and ergonomic operation more than doubles productivity & reduces health risks. GiraDora allows the user to sit in a more ergonomic position, thereby reducing chronic back pain. Its ability to wash, rinse and spin dry clothes removes the users hands from painfully cold water, reduces water consumption by rinsing more efficiently, and eliminates the risk of tenosynovitis from wringing clothes.
ECOLOGICAL BENEFIT: saves water compared to hand-washing laundry by eliminating a rinse cycle & facilitates re-use of water with a drain
ECONOMIC IMPACT: GiraDora reaches a wide market with a product designed specifically for underserved consumers. It is assembled in country to create local jobs. GiraDora’s innovative business plan provides a user with 3 revenue streams to supplement income:
1) By increasing efficiency, GiraDora increases earning potential to those providing laundry services
2) Its compact size makes it ideal for renting
3) Owners can easily transition into sales representatives, selling directly to the community.
BENEFIT TO SOCIETY: With 46% of the world’s population living without running water, GiraDora’s value proposition of increased productivity, ease of use, and income generating possibilities creates a significant impact on families’ lives worldwide.6. How can you be sure that the values you are advancing are desired by the community you are working with?
GiraDora is the direct result of the input we received from the community members of Cerro Verde. From its inception to the most current iteration combining both washing and spin drying into one unit, GiraDora has come to fruition through the close communication and collaboration with the families of Cerro Verde. Our South American NGO partner–a trusted organization with experience helping over 85,000 families across 19 countries in Latin America to overcome poverty–has acted as the conduit between our school and Cerro Verde. Their experience working with the community has helped guide our design process. Throughout each step of the process, we have maintained close contact with our NGO partner and the families of Cerro Verde, through direct field visits and testing, phone and video conferences, and presentations to NGO representatives in the US.7. How will your project remain economically and operationally sustainable in the long term?
In the recent months, we have concentrated on the business feasibility of GiraDora in an effort to distill the most appropriate and sustainable business plan for this product and market:
● Our long term goals and business model incorporates the communities who would most benefit from GiraDora. Three different revenue streams allow users to generate income through GiraDora, all without the use of subsidies.
● Venture development workshops and presentations at national conferences have allowed us to glean the advice of numerous professionals, academics, and venture capitalists.
● An MBA student has joined our team to better tackle the challenges of implementation.
● We are currently applying for grants to fund the next round of pilot commercialization and design testing of 50-100 prototypes in Latin America. After this round of pilot testing, we will identify private sector partners for manufacturing and distribution, while maintaining a close connection with our NGO partners, to assure social impact.
● Our initial product roll-out will focus on South America, with our current NGO partner. Moving forward, we plan to work with an international NGO based with a strong presence in India, to expand to a broader global market.