During the weeks of April, my friend Anya and I looked deeper into some neglected problems in the world that impact millions of people and have potential for innovation. With the intention of coming up with a non-technical solution for a problem in a developing country, we spent many days thinking about what to work on.
It was insane the amount I learned in just exploring different problems and invalidating them- I realized that even if you hate a problem and are passionate about solving it, it's crucial to put aside your attachment to a it and properly assess if it's worth solving. One problem I found interesting, but validated quickly was salt farming in India: farmers spend 118 degrees Fahrenheit outside raking the salt + collecting it, go blind because of the reflection of sun’s rays on the salt and into their eyes, and get skin diseases. And for all of this, they only get $4 for a ton of salt they harvest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXDoofWyHP8.
The issue with solving this problem was that the only possible innovation they would be incentivized into using would be sunglasses for their eyes, boots or gloves, and/or better rakes. When trying to provide high quality products to people in rural areas, it's ironic that these people actually have to pay more than those in urban areas. It costs more to deliver to these areas, and as a result, those who can't afford these products end up having to pay the most.
Another insight we came to was that when people had a fundamental asset (like their house) in jeopardy, they were much less likely to make rational decisions around the purchase of higher quality products. Thinking about how to help these houses in jeopardy, we decided to tackle the problem of climate resilient housing in Kenya, specifically with droughts.
In Kenya, for every degree change in temperature beyond 29.97 degrees Celsius, the strength of houses in rural Kenya deteriorates exponentially (as shown below). So 29.97 degrees is the cracking point of these houses. The interesting thing is that the average temperature in Kenya is 29 degrees, so half the time the temperature is actively cracking houses.