New Product Development in the Micro Enterprise Sector, Report from fieldwork undertaken in Maputo, Mozambique

ADHIAMBO MRSOSANJOL. "New Product Development in the Micro Enterprise Sector, Report from fieldwork undertaken in Maputo, Mozambique.". In: Faculty of ADD, University of Nairobi. ISCTRC; 2003.


Various stakeholders come together to conceptualise, analyse and commercialise new products. This was the case recently when designers, artisans, marketers and facilitating institutions came together to engage in new product development for the micro enterprise sector. Through the effort of Terra Nuova (the facilitating agency), Department of Design (providing designers), Aid to Artisans and Institute for the Development of Local Industry (IDIL), Undugu Kenya and artisans in both Kenya and Mozambique, a number of new products were developed. The artisan works in difficult circumstances in many parts of Africa such as Mozambique and Kenya. Most artisans provide technical and entrepreneurial inputs in the enterprises and are therefore invariably referred to as artisans and entrepreneurs in this report. They support their families from proceeds of the enterprise. Often they do not pay attention to detail and not enough attention to product quality. Inspite of this, the benefits of the artisan's products to many people far outweigh these shortcomings. Customers buy from micro enterprises because their prices are fair. The entrepreneurs understand the customer tastes in terms of colour and form, and the entrepreneurs provide easy payment terms and are available or easily accessible to them. The entrepreneurs often work near their ancestral homes so they understand the culture and traditions of the customers they serve. This can be deduced from observations, interviews and sales figures. Product development can take the form of an innovation, change of use, adaptation and bundling of features among other things. This report outlines the process of product development that was undertaken in Mozambique in the course of the project. Lueti is a set of coasters developed through a product design process that took into account the various stakeholders in the success of a product. These were the designer, marketer and artisan all working together. The process involved a critical examination of material, the ability of the artisan and the availability of a market. The availability of good quality and varied hard wood in Mozambique also influenced the identification of the product. The working environment at IDIL, where equipment and machinery for working wood was also complementary to the product development. In the case of lueti there was redefinition of use and adaptation. The idea was developed through consultation, sketching and specification. A prototype was developed and after further consultation and modification a series of three coasters were available for test marketing. Lueti coasters design was inspired by the afro-comb. Afro combs can be found in most parts of the world particularly where afro hair is predominant. The original combs were made from wood whereas the more conventional ones are made from plastic. The basic shape remains the same with the teeth on one side and a handle on the other side. Whereas the basic shape has remained the same, nowadays you can find combs whose main use is adornment on walls.




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