Creating Opportunities, One Community At A Time
Inculcating self-reliance and sustainability to improve communities
At Dextra, we believe in creating communities of change. Our goal is to teach communities in low-income countries to develop solutions to their problems so that they are self-reliant. With this vision, we collaborate with not-for-profit organizations around the world to create capacities for locals in the region to learn skills and help create a better society.
Earlier this summer, we launched a partnership with Tech Era, a tech non-profit organization in Ghana to develop Assistive technology Makerspace at Ashesi University. The project was carried out in partnership with the Ashesi D-lab and the goal was to develop skills in the students to use technology for creating low-cost solutions for people of Ghana, especially the ones with an amputation.
The trip was eye-opening. We call it eye-opening because of the challenges we faced and the insights we gained over the two weeks of time that we spent in Ghana. As mentioned in this study, many people with disabilities in Ghana and other parts of Africa are excluded from education, work, community, and social life. One of the reasons is the stigma associated with the disabled person itself. This stigma prevents disabled students from attending schools.
We were received by Derick Omari and his colleagues from Tech Era in Accra. From there, we went to Ashesi University where our work began. The students had to apply 2 months before the program and Tech Era along with Dextra examined each application. We made sure to induct 50% of males and 50% of females in the program.
The program was divided into two segments to be covered in two weeks. The first week was about learning and applying the technology and the second week was about learning product development, management, and entrepreneurship concepts. The program also had regular guest-speaker and socializing sessions in the evenings.
After introducing ourselves in the first week, the team conducted full-day sessions on getting the students familiarized with the technology and how to use it. We also worked with the students to set a final presentation date where they were expected to present their solution to one of the social-issues prevailing in Ghana. The topics in training aimed to help participants in gaining the technical knowledge needed to design and develop assistive technologies. Some of those topics were Computer Assisted Design (CAD), digital fitting, and 3D printing.
We focused on creating entrepreneurship and lean product development skills in the second week. In the second week, participants worked on their design challenges to develop prototypes of assistive technologies. The training during second week gave them the resources and knowledge needed in thinking about the sustainability and commercialization aspect of their projects. Some of the topics that were covered in week two were ideation, market analysis, customer interview, and business planning.
The students were also given time every day to use the knowledge to work on their final project, develop a business-pitch, 3D print the prototypes (if their solution required a prototype), and prepare the business case. On the final day, they were asked to present their solutions in front of the audience that included government delegation, investors, educators, and people in the field of physical rehabilitation and assistive technologies. We were happy and proud to see the amazement in the audience for the incredible work that our students did in just two weeks. The day ended with a formal networking event and dinner.
It is satisfying and fulfilling feeling when we saw the students using the newly gained knowledge and to work passionately on their proposed solutions. We are now back in Canada, but we make sure to stay in touch with the students and Tech Era to constantly give feedback on their work and answer any questions that they may have.
I think being Canadians and coming from diverse social and geographical backgrounds, all three founders at Dextra bring a unique perspective towards the problems around the world. The Canadian values and the responsibility that comes with being a Canadian drives us to help the people around the world.
We are working on several other projects currently. I will keep you updated about them.
Thanks for reading.