Ashesi University and Burro Inc.


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So fun we’re turned upside down!

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Problem Statement:

The risk associated with designing and selling development products is too high for most companies to conduct proper research and marketing on most products. Because these products are sold at the lowest price point possible, R&D resources are scarce, and innovation moves at very slow. We aim to create a program at Cal Poly similar to the MIT D-Lab, the Stanford Extreme lab, and the Cal Development Impact lab that shoulders the most risky burden in creating solutions for developing countries. We aim to join committed students, passionate faculty, and a practical network of private-sector companies that are devoted to making an impact.


Develop a program that will outreach and inform Cal Poly students of Burro’s products, business model, and impact on the people of Ghana. The program would have the potential to spread throughout other universities to further Burro’s or any company’s use of appropriate technology for the people in this developing region.

The Burro Way: Three Things Keep Us True

Burro® sells quality products that help our customers save more and earn more. We get our cred on the ground—from the streets of Koforidua, Ghana, where our pilot branch is based, to the hundreds of surrounding villages we serve. Farm families getting by with no electricity and little cash; urban folks dealing with frequent power cuts—see how Burro stuff delivers better living affordably.

Case Studies:

UC Berkeley Development Impact Lab

A short overview of the focus of the program

The Development Impact Lab (DIL) is a global consortium of research institutes, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and industry partners committed to advancing international development through science and technology innovations. Partnering with this organization would expose Cal Poly to a vast amount of opportunities to pursue advancements through the creative approach to implement appropriate technology for people in developing regions.

Mission and Approach

The Development Impact Lab (DIL) is a global consortium of research institutes, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and industry partners committed to advancing international development through science and technology innovations.

With the support of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and in collaboration with the U.S. Global Development Lab, DIL is formalizing the application of academic science and engineering disciplines to social and economic development. This approach is embodied in a new field called Development Engineering. This system of inquiry and practice combines engineering and the natural sciences with insights from economics and the social sciences to generate sustainable, technology-based solutions to development challenges.

Partnerships the programs have with companies

  • U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
    • DIL is proud to be a member of USAID’s Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN), a groundbreaking consortium of seven Development Labs that seeks to catalyze development innovation through powerful new science, technology, and engineering approaches and tools. HESN is an initiative of the Agency’s Office of Science and Technology.

  • USAID Development Labs
  • University of California, Berkeley: Development Impact Lab (DIL)
  • The College of William and Mary: The Data Center for Development Policy
  • Duke University: The Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke (SEAD)
  • Makerere University (Uganda): ResilientAfrica
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology: The International Development Innovation Network (IDIN)
  • Michigan State University: The Global Center for Food Systems Innovation (GCFSI)
  • Texas A&M University: The Center on Conflict and Development (C&D Center)


DIL Explore grants are open to researchers across the DIL network and support early-stage, exploratory research that combines technology innovation with social and economic research to solve international development challenges (ie, the emerging field of development engineering); and/or international travel that supports development engineering projects through research, fact-finding or new partnerships.


  • Short overview of the focus of the program:

D-Lab is building a global network of innovators to design and disseminate technologies that meaningfully improve the lives of people living in poverty. The program’s mission is pursued through interdisciplinary courses, technology development, and community initiatives, all of which emphasize experiential learning, real-world projects, community-led development, and scalability.

  • Partnerships:

IDIN is a consortium of university and partners led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and funded by the US Agency for International Development’s U.S. Global Development Lab. IDIN is a five-year cooperative agreement with the United States Agency for Internationals Development’s (USAID)

  • Brief list of projects:

  1. Luz the Futuro:Workshops empowering waste-pickers to develop public speaking, mathematics, and entrepreneurship skills in Bluefields, Nicaragua
  2. Ice Shaver: A pedal-powered device for making shaved ice developed with youth in El Salvador for income generation
  3. Rabo Quente: A safer resistive water-heating shower head for use in the favelas of Brazil


Having the ability to implement challenges that are not only addressed through lectures, but other factors such as: case studies, guest speakers and laboratory exercises.


There may be too many problems occurring in places like Ghana. They may need a larger support system, perhaps partnering with other universities. At this point, the more people that are involved, the chances of improving communities throughout the world increases.

  • Analysis of how the program could work at Cal Poly

Bringing this program to Cal Poly can not only benefit the other universities that are currently involved, but we can enhance the education and intelligence of the students here that are extremely interested in contributing to such a huge cause. The more universities that are involved, the larger the impact will be on the developing countries.

Extreme Lab


Design for Extreme Affordability is a two-quarter course offered by the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design through the Graduate School of Business and the School of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford. This multidisciplinary project-based experience creates an enabling environment in which students learn to design products and services that will change the lives of the world’s poorest citizens. Students work directly with course partners on real world problems, the culmination of which is actual implementation and real change.

Each year, 40 Stanford graduate students from across campus engage with 5 global partners to produce 10 transformative projects. The students participate in a human-centered design process that leads them to establish deep empathy with their users while using radical collaboration to iterate on seemingly impossible and extremely affordable solutions. Post-Extreme, solutions create impact either through implementation by the partner, new independent student-led organizations, or another appropriate organization.

Over the past nine years, Extreme itself has gone through many iterations. Three hundred twenty five students have worked on 80 high-impact projects in 14 countries. The class would not succeed without the collaboration of the dedicated committed community around it. Tremendous effort and resources make up each class session. While Extreme is led by seasoned faculty members, the class would not be successful without the dedication of the students, partners, coaches, and greater teaching team.


Extreme Awareness: Cooking fires and oil heater safety in Nepal
Precise Rice: Direct seeding tools for Burmese rice farmers
LifeRAFT: Surgery recovery assistance to rural nepalese
Healyx: Enables patients with severe wounds to heal faster and leave hospitals sooner
demo.loo: Demonstration toilet that will help sanitation in Lima, Peru
D. Feet Clubfoot: Rural healthcare training to treat club-footed children
d. Hydrate: Mold prevention in Bhutaneze hazelnut crops
d. Husk: Hazelnut processing in Bhutan

Two-quarter class with partnerships with people on the ground in developing countries. They find producers and consumers to partner with the groups in order to facilitate production, distribution and consumption of the development products created in the projects. After the two quarters, groups typically hand off their final designs to partner organizations who manufacture and distribute the products.
They do field work during winter finals and spring break.
They implement business plans to make products a reality.


Asks a lot from partner organizations in terms of ground costs during field work and trips.
Doesn’t necessarily lead to beneficial partner products
Could be rigorous course load for >1 project


The Extreme lab seems to be similar to our UNIV 391 class, but a step up in terms of partnerships and organization. It seems to more effectively implement prototypes and solutions to the developing world. The Field trip seems to be a bit much, but inherently necessary in learning the needs of the people they aim to help, as we have learned that is the most important step in creating lasting and effective development products.

Burro Product Line: Tools for a Better LifeSM

Burro stuff works. If it doesn’t help you to save more or to earn more, you won’t find it with us. Burro brings you tough, long-lasting products at affordable prices.

We stand behind everything Burro sells. If you are ever less than fully satisfied with any Burro product, tell us, and we’ll work with you to make it good.

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Save More. Earn More. Do More®



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Save More, Earn More
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Cal Poly:

UNIV- 391/392

Contact Information

Name Email
Antonio Rodriguez
Tom Nork
Chris Taylor


Ashesi University
Ideo – Designing a path out of povert

would we just want to join them?

This is confusing to me. I’m trying to find structure that makes sense. The heading above is Berkeley’s DIL and then you talk about USAID and refer to to DIL as one of them. Do you mean to say that DIL is one organization among a consortium under USAID? Please explain better and organize your information.

There are some good ideas represented in this website, but they are not organized… or at least I am not able to make sense of them. Please reorder your website and let me know when/if you’d like me to evaluate it again before the final presentation. In general you can make many direct links to what projects and institutions you are talking about. Please start with a short statement (maybe one sentence) summarizing your project. Move the material that isn’t central to your mission to the end of the document. Remember this is a presentation to the public – to potential collaborators. How do you want to show that what you’re doing is good business? Move all my comments in red to the very bottom of your website so I can refer to what I wrote, but the reader won’t be inconvenienced by my comments. Add a conclusionary statement. Please add Statekholders analysis. At present, this would receive a “C-“, but from speaking with you, I am sure you have lots of good ideas and with some work, this website will be very professional and informative.