The InfoDev, a branch of the World Bank, founded and operates seven incubators that focus on innovative climate change mitigation technologies across the globe. These centers provide much-needed funding, mentorship, and networking.

Entrepreneurs were expected to provide business data on a quarterly basis — collected through surveys and personal interviews conducted by incubator leadership. Despite the great resources and funding provided by InfoDev, the incubator leadership teams were challenged to collect regular and complete business data from the entrepreneurs, while they were part of the incubator, and any data the business had ‘graduated out’ of the year-long program. The composite business data of those within the incubator and their success after graduating out is essential to the individual incubators proving their success and garnering funds, both from the World Bank as well as additional outside sources.

The team spoke with local DC based incubators and realized that the crux of the entrepreneur life was a high-pressure system with huge demands on their time, focused almost solely on ensuring their business’ success — while being consistently ‘on-the-go’. They have little time to do anything not viewed as having a business value associated with it.

So, the team needed to create a value-based relationship around the exchange of this data that was independent of the acceptance to the incubator and its associated funding.

Working with the World Bank, the team interviewed the Nairobi incubator leadership and some of its entrepreneurs, to understand the current responsibilities and pain points. While no initial data we had collected was altered, what we also realized was that there are significant challenges to their cellular systems.

Most entrepreneurs had access to the latest technology, but the best mobile data connection they had was 3G (even in a city as large as Nairobi). This precluded our ability to suggest any large data management software or mobile application.

Our final recommendation was a business data management, cloud-based software system. At its core, the system focused on the entrepreneur’s ability to manage and understand their business data in a convenient way. Profiles are set-up based on application data by incubator leadership, and then updated incrementally by the entrepreneur, allowing them to continuously see into their business through added data points. Administrators of the system are able to pull the data down from the backend and see the success of their incubator in real time. They can also see when certain businesses are in need of assistance and begin to see trends for success that will better enable them to help future entrepreneurs.

Once a business adds 70% of the requested data, the goal-setting feature is unlocked. While each data set can be downloaded for use as a chart or table in a pitch deck, the entrepreneurs wanted to more clearly show progress over time and their validity as a candidate for investment. The goal-setting feature accomplished this such as a ‘Fitbit’ or ‘Digit’ style self-set goal marker. Users created goals based on entered data sets, with recommendations generated by previous and compiled center data, and tracked against them with a user specified timeline.

The design is lightweight, device agnostic, and visually stunning. Meant to be a more pleasant and less stressful interaction than most of their business responsibilities, the design team went with a cool palette, minimalist design, and rounded features. The construction of the design is modular, allowing for the World Bank to continuously iterate on the design with almost no need for new design thought.

While the team was only responsible for designing the tool, we created a recommended set of features for future roll-out, based on the interview data. These features would need to be tested in the market for their added value, but include such features as a customer support chatbot, pitch deck customization, and a more robust business profile page.  The flexibility and user-centric design will allow the tool to become a success once built and we look forward to hearing back on the initial beta release.