Case study Property & Social housing

Lighting up African communities

Gentoo provides safety, light and business in Africa

Project Nuru is a charitable idea born out of a visit to Africa where Gentoo saw that the use of kerosene lamps was leading to people dying from inhaling the resulting fumes.

Concept

The core idea of the project is that Nuru will collect funds from charitable donations by the public. These will then be made available to partner NGOs operating in Africa so that they can buy and supply solar powered lamps for people to replace their kerosene lamps. The lamps also have mobile phone charging sockets which provide an additional source of income for the owners of the lamps as they can loan them out to other residents during the day.

The lamps cost £25 so the residents agree to pay back £1 a week which the NGO will collect. At the end of the 6 month period the residents have a safe and free source of light and the NGO have all the money back which they can then use to reinvest in another village (or return to Project Nuru).

Nuru is currently in a pilot phase and so has two projects being maintained very much by hand using tools such as Excel. If it is to grow large enough to make a real difference then it needs an IT system to support it.

We needed to provide:

  • A public facing website with easy content management to promote the cause.
  • The ability to use the public site to collect donations via JustGiving.
  • Functionality to import the donation details from JustGiving into Gentoo’s system.
  • A back-end management application to manage the individual NGO projects and Relationships.

Collaborative Approach

We were very interested to be a part of the work that the Nuru Fund was doing, and the work was completed free of charge, utilising the time of a summer intern and a project manager.

We took an agile software approach to creating both the public site and the management application; enabling greater flexibility in design and allowing the product to evolve to be tailored to Gentoo’s exact needs. By using this collaborative approach with the Gentoo Nuru Fund team, any new ideas that arose during the process were able to be included in the finished product.

This increased level of customer involvement, coupled with meticulous project management meant that additional ideas and features were able to be incorporated into the finished product, without extending the amount of time taken to complete the project. One such example is that it was decided that the partner NGOs should be able to have an easy way to enter weekly totals of money collected from the various individuals to whom the lamps had been distributed. This idea itself evolved, eventually taking on the appearance of a small spreadsheet, so as to minimise the impact to those using it – who had become accustomed to the current spreadsheet format.

Benefits

The public site is now much more structured and user friendly, providing more information to the public, and greatly increasing the ease with which Gentoo staff are able to add/remove content. An easy to use interface with JustGiving is linked into the site, in keeping with the design and feel of the rest of the site. In addition to this, the public site now provides daily updates on the amount of money raised through JustGiving.

The team from Waterstons were pragmatic and creative in their approach, and they were of course very helpful. Transferring systems is sometimes a painful process but they ensured this one was not. The great work Waterstons have done will now help us to take The Nuru Fund charity to the next level.
Gentoo Group