Posted to the Ethnos Project by on March 9th, 2011

Reposted without edits from

IDEO announces new organization to address poverty through human-centered design.

March 7, 2011 — Palo Alto, Calif. — Today IDEO announced that in the fall of this year, it will launch a new organization aimed at spreading human-centered design throughout the social sector in order to improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world and focus on challenges related to poverty. The organization, which will be called, is the result of interest from nonprofits and foundations that seek more access to innovative ways to address some of the world’s most challenging problems and that are looking to create tangible impact through design. will reflect the human-centered, design-based approach IDEO has championed since its inception in 1991. As a global design and innovation firm, IDEO has worked on a breadth of projects, including the first mouse for Apple and the first laptop. Recent work includes Bank of America’s Keep the Change program, improving nurse knowledge exchange for better patient care with Kaiser Permanente, and Ford’s MyFord Touch dashboard. IDEO has also engaged in public sector projects with organizations like the U.S. Office of Personnel Management and the U.S. Social Security Administration.

IDEO’s Human-Centered Design Toolkit, a free innovation guide for social enterprises and NGOs, also demonstrates the positive effect human-centered design can have in low-income communities. Human-centered design is based in the needs of people. It’s a process of prototyping and learning with the goal of delivering more effective solutions. Created with International Development Enterprise (IDE) as part of a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the HCD Toolkit is designed specifically for NGOs and social enterprises that work with impoverished communities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. It walks people through the human-centered design process and supports them in activities such as building listening skills and implementing ideas. To date, it’s been downloaded more than 49,000 times and has been used by organizations throughout the developing world, including Acumen Fund, AyurVAID, Engineers without Borders, Heifer International, ICRW, IDE, Micro Drip, Nuru International, and VisionSpring.

Drawing on what IDEO has learned through its work in the social sector, will seek to have impact in three ways: By partnering with organizations on design projects focused on poverty alleviation in the areas of health, agriculture, water and sanitation, financial services, and gender equity; by spreading human-centered design through storytelling, platforms, and new networks; and by fostering future leaders through a fellowship program that will bring together residents from IDEO and people from the design, business, and social sectors.
A general set of criteria will help determine which projects takes on: The place or people benefitting from the project is a low-income community or group; the partner organization is a non-profit, foundation, or social enterprise; and the result of the challenge is tangible – a product, service, business, or system – that will directly benefit the community or people for which it was designed.

About works directly with nonprofits, social enterprises, and foundations on their pressing innovation challenges to get solutions to market faster and increase their impact and effectiveness. Its breakthrough, scalable model is aimed at spreading human-centered design through the social sector and improving the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. seeks to have a tangible impact on the alleviation of poverty through projects in areas such as health, agriculture, water and sanitation, financial services, and gender equity.

For press inquires:

Debbe Stern
(650) 274-7000

For general information:

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