The idea for iBUILD was started by our desire to digitize housing support services (HSS) in a mobile application as a means to increase access to affordable housing in developing countries. To design and develop a solution, the iBUILD team engaged a number of partners for support. To help move the process along, iBUILD Global Inc. was introduced to IBM through their On Demand Community program. Through this program, IBM employees can volunteer their services to social entrepreneurs in order to help them evolve ideas and augment technical capabilities. Working with a team of 7 IBM employees, iBUILD Global Inc. conducted an intensive 6-month Design Thinking process for iBUILD. This effort created detailed process maps, data diagrams, and initial mock-ups of the application. The design developed was based on interviews with architects, customers, contractors, lenders, workers, and regulators across Kenya. The culmination of IBM’s efforts provided the iBUILD team with the blueprint for the following functionality:
- Customers can search plans, find architects, and release solicitations to find contractors
- Workers are matched to contractor job opportunities by profile, skill level, and geography
- Progress images and validated milestones offer transparency around the work being done for all stakeholders
- Workers can seek on-site mentors who can digitally verify their skills and quality of work
- Mobile payments made by card or mobile money account
- Easy cashout & cheap withdrawals based on milestone completion
In parallel with the IBM project, the iBUILD Global team began work with MasterCard Innovation Labs for Financial Inclusion (MCFLI) in Nairobi, Kenya, seeking a place in their incubation program. The team presented iBUILD, earning us a place in the program.
The team proceeded to conduct further interviews with stakeholders in Kenya and leveraged the resources of the MCLFI incubator to refine iBUILD’s design. After advancing the design, the team created a development and deployment schedule for the mobile application in Q2 of 2016. We are proud to say there is now a functioning iBUILD prototype that has been tested in User Assisted Training sessions with over 50 users in Kenya, Zambia, and Rwanda over the past 9 months. At the moment we are conducting an active pilot in Kenya with Habitat for Humanity in preparation of a wider scale launch in Kenya later this year.