Amber Saloner, David Riszk, Eva Hoffman

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Hello!  Our team includes Eva Hoffmann, a junior studying Human Biology and Product Design, David Rizk, a Law and Public Policy student, and Amber Saloner, a Business school student.  Together, we developed a program called Baby Bank, which helps pregnant women save money to cover pregnancy-related health expenses.  Our program leverages the M-Pesa technology, which is already widely used in Kenya.

Our mentor for the project was Sally Madsen, designer of Social Impact at IDEO.

Our presentation:

Here's the powerpoint from our presentation on Tuesday:


Or, if you prefer to hear about our project in story format, this is a draft of the presentation script:

   Meet Rose, a Kenyan mother who lives in Nairobi.  She lives there with her husband and two kids, and she just found out that she is pregnant with a third.  This news made her worried because she already lost a child to birth complications, and she knows her own safety and the safety of her baby could be at risk.  She wants to find a way to be confident that she will deliver this child safely.  But it's not that easy. Rose lives in a world where a woman or her child dies every minute due to preventable complications in childbirth.... just think about how many lives that is every hour, or every day. 

     She needs a plan, a way to get clinic appointments, she needs to pay for malaria meds so that her baby is born with a healthy weight. She needs blood pressure tests to check for hypertension to avoid aclampsyia, which could easily kill her. And maybe she even wants a delivery in a clinic. But the problem is, that is going to cost her money. A clinic appointment will run her 20 shillings, malaria meds another ten, and some of the tests will be 50. And then there's the cost of giving birth in a clinic, which can be up to 4000 shillings. It's not that she doesn't have money - she works and earns a pretty consistent weekly income - but she can't save large lump sums because of all the other pressures in her life.

     What she needs is something to help her save this money. A safe spot to keep her money, where she knows it won't be stolen or raided by her husband. She needs a tool that will make it easier for her to save - so easy that it becomes a regular habit.

     Actually, there already is a tool like that.

     M-Pesa is a mobile money transfer system developed by Safaricom, the main mobile service provider in Kenya. It is available to all Safaricom subscribers, and registration is free. Users only pay fees when they are sending outgoing payments, not when they are depositing or recieving money. Most cell phone customers have prepayment plans, so the money that M-Pesa users send is just deducted from the balance on their account.

      MPesa has already gained huge popularity in Kenya and has almost ten million users in the country. Already, 75% of the people who have Mpesa accounts are using them to save, and 40% of the unbanked users say it's the most important savings tool they have. Saving on MPesa is a really exciting opporunity. Just two weeks ago, a program called M-kesho was rolled out by Safaricom as a micro savings program, so we know that there is definitely interest in developing mobile savings programs. 

     So what if we could help Rose by leveraging the existing popularity of MPesa to help her save, using a program that she's already comfortable with?

      This is what we're imagining.

      A mother like rose already knows how expensive pregnancies can be, and she wants to save because she cares much more about her baby's health than her own. Her child is a symbol opportunity and hope, and she wants to help him be happy and healthy in every way she can. 

      So she decides to go to an MPesa agent to talk about plans for saving for her baby. She picks a concrete goal that she is going to save up for -- specific appointments, vaccinations, or screenings that she cares most about. 

      So for example, she may set up her account so that money will be transferred to savings automatically every time there is a deposit to her account - 7 % - and texts show her her progress towards the goal that she has set, and give her tips on how to save more. 

      At the same time, she recieves information to reinforce her investment in her baby's health. Health tips will help her avoid complications later on, which in turn saves her even more money.

      Her extended family is so proud that she is saving, and so they help her by depositing money to her account - even her relatives in Europe can deposit because of a partnership with Vodafone.

      Then, when she is ready for her appointments, the money is released from her account and transferred directly to the clinic: it's all done automatically and she never even has to touch the money. Clinics love this system because it makes payments easier, safer, and more reliable. 

     We've put a lot of thought into this plan, but it's only one of a number of options we've considered. We're ready to go out and do user testing, go find our Rose, and see what works best for her. We know that the process of saving is really challenging for her, because there are so many other pressing issues that get prioritized above saving. We know that she may struggle with her husband, no matter how supportive he may be, to try to save money. But we also see a unique opportunity here. Savings circles have been shown to empower women to take financial control and make responsible choices. Pregnant women especially are in a great position to save, because they have a concrete time frame for savings and a really specific goal. Baby bank is designed to make reaching that goal just a little bit easier for Rose.

 Our elevator pitch:


Our prototypes: Baby Bank storyboards

To get more concrete about our ideas and what they would involve, we created a number of prototypes. Early versions included a simple calendar of different savings plans for Rose, but as we got more sophisticated we moved into creating storyboards that described exactly how our program could work.

Baby Bank: prototyping and storyboards

Initiating conversations with the experts:

We knew that we had a lot of questions that our research couldn't answer, so we contacted a number of people who have specific relevant expertise:

Sally Madsen, IDEO Social Impact Design - our coach, who was immensely helpful!

Nick Pearson, Jacaranda Health

Grant Miller, Stanford Medicine and Dept of Economics

Seema Jayachandran, Stanford Dept of Economics

The contacts we made provided us with a wealth of information. Here's an idea of some of the most relevant information, organized into chart form:

conversations with experts.pdf

Detailed Research:

In looking for answers to some of our more specific questions, we came across some useful resources, which inspired us with ideas and more questions we wanted to answer.

Helpful Papers:

The Enabling Environment for Mobile Banking in Kenya.pdf

Self-help Groups Report.pdf

Saving In Developing Countries Overview.pdf

Mobile Money the Economics of MPesa.pdf


M-KESHO Press Release.pdf



Helpful Videos:

A video added by Nick Pearson, a contact in Nairobi setting up mobile maternal clinics through Jacaranda Health:

5-part IRIN video, "Slum Survivors," highlighting the challenges of slum mothers (note: this is a little graphic):

The Brainstorming Process:

Baby Bank: Brainstorming

Learn about how we considered different perspectives/needs and ultimately created our persona, Rose, and a point of view that we could address.