Akanksha Foundation

toolkit design, facilitation
(Jun, 2016)

A three day design sprint with the Akanksha Foundation to help them create a project around women empowerment in their communities.

The Akanksha Foundation is one of the biggest NGOs, working in the field of education for underprivileged children. Their work is truly holistic, since, in addition to adopting government schools, they also do extensive community development work.

One of their community development goals is women empowerment. They had been trying to launch a project to satisfy this goal for a year. They approached us to help them figure out a project that would make sense for the communities they work in. To do this we facilitated a three day design sprint with the Akanksha social workers’ team.

The research aspect of their design process was already undertaken, since these social workers had already worked with this community of women on a daily basis. Only, this repository of information was implicit knowledge. Our goal was to make this research explicit and help them synthesise it into an actionable project.

Designing the Toolkit

We designed a discussion-toolkit to convert Akanksha’s social worker team’s implicit knowledge into explicit, observable information.

In order to design effective interventions, it is not only necessary to understand the prevalent problems in the community, but also to recognise prevalent centres of influence for the women and then be able to connect the two. Thus, the main aspect of the process was to provide them with a way to download the large database of information in their minds into discernible Problems and Influences, using personas of the women they had dealt with.

Each participant explored the life of the women by understanding her problems in different spheres of her life: personal, community and city. They then graded the severity of each problem. As a result of this, when you looked at all the data at a glance, you could at once identify in what areas problems were recurring and severe. These were then connected to the objects, places and events that the women interacted with repeatedly.

Following that, we had a day of ideation & prototyping, where the teams went out into their communities to test their ideas. We introduced the teams to prototyping philosophies & methods, and helped them build guides to go out and talk to their communities.

Finally, on the last day we got them to build a clear implementation plan for their ideas by using tools such as the business model canvas, user journey maps and an implementation plan set for the next 2 months.


We met with the team again after a month, and found that they had been using the methods of problem identification and user interviews for all their projects, and had started implementing some of the ideas created during the workshop.