GlobalResolve’s Director of Design, John Takamura has been working in Toluca, Mexico with Tec de Monterrey for several years. His design students have produced products that meet the needs of the community of San Antonio Buena Vista, a very low-income area that sits next door to the university. He has taken several trips to Toluca in past years and this year he took some students in summer 2012 and one student, Breck Byington in 2013.
This is John’s report on the 2013 trip. Th ere were 2 primary goals for the trip. The first goal was to test our prototype for the Bike Smoothie Maker in the poor rural community of San Antonio Buenavista with a team of Tec de Monterrey and GlobalResolve students from our Spring GR course Design for the Developing World. Th e second goal was to present the clothing brand we developed at GlobalResolve for the Mazahua Indigenous Tribe and to further our work with the tribe’s women to develop the Mazahua fashion product line. We worked with the Tec students adjusting and fine tuning the final bike design.
We sought out local community welders and bike shops to make sure the concept could be produced locally within the rural community rather than in Mexico City or greater Toluca. We also worked at the Tec de Monterrey campus with the students to apply the brand to the prototype. In our tests of the prototype in the community we also made sure to get community input on the brand.
We asked everyone from kids to young adults to the elderly regarding how they felt about our brand FruitBandit (in Spanish ‘FrutaBandito’). Th e objective of project was to use the bike smoothie concept as a way to educate the community about diabetes and how a healthy diet and daily exercise can help prevent this most devastating disease in the community.
The idea of the brand was to make healthy eating and exercise fashionable. Not unlike people walking around with StarBucks cups in the city, we want the rural community to embrace the FruitBandit brand as a healthy lifestyle alternative.
Kids, men, women, and even the elderly participated in the prototype testing and the community seemed very excited about the project. The Tec student volunteers worked with our GlobalResolve students and had a lot of fun at the same time.
We also worked with the women of the Mazahua Indigenous Tribe. We have been building our relationship with the tribe for the past couple years and we were continuing our work from last summer on the Mazahua fashion brand and product line for the tribal venture we are helping them with.
We designed the fashion brand Vittu which means ‘clothing’ in the Mazahua indigenous language and we discussed with the tribe’s women how to build the fashion brand concept as a fair trade indigenous clothing brand not unlike Global Mama’s brand of Ghana.
We created a mock website featuring the dress prototype we developed with them last summer.
We had the opportunity to be on Mexican local TV again and presented our work on the FruitBandit bike smoothie maker prototype. Both GloblResolve and Tec students were interviewed for the TV program.
Takamura also guest lectured for Tec de Monterrey MBA students interested in social entrepreneurship for the BoP.