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Eliot Duffy in Africa

A year of rapid change and growing impact: ThinkPlace and Africa 2018 and beyond

In many ways Africa and its people are going through a period of dynamic transformation and rapid growth.

And we are growing alongside them.

The impact, scope and size of ThinkPlace Kenya has tripled in the last 12 months.

From our base in Nairobi we have worked across the continent and beyond with amazing partners and global leaders in areas like public health and international development.

We’re developing new methodologies and implementing innovative ways to drive the adoption of positive services, products and behaviours.

We’re combining and advancing disciplines like design thinking and behavioural economics to create a powerful engine for behavior change and systems-level transformation.

But while we are so excited to get on with creating even more positive change in 2019 it is sometimes worth looking back as one year turns into another, to see just how far we’ve come…


ThinkPlace Kenya staff moving into the new Nairobi studio
ThinkPlace Kenya has moved into a new design studio in FCB Mihrab building, a fitting new home for a growing team of changemakers

2018: By the numbers

In 2018, our Kenyan Studio worked on projects in 20 countries (including Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Somaliland, Uganda, South Africa, Malawi, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, USA, UK, France, Mali, Niger, Ethiopia, Rwanda).

At ThinkPlace our goal is that every project we take on ‘moves the needle’ on at least one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In the past 12 months we’ve worked on projects that involve 15 of the 17 SDGs. These include our work in Global Health (Nutrition, Sexual and Reproductive Health, HIV prevention), Climate Change and sustainability, development innovation, business for impact and SDG2 (no Hunger).  

We’ve also welcomed 14 new people to our fast-growing team.

We’ve won major international design awards from New York-based Core 77 (for our ‘Sex work is real work’ HIV project with the Kenyan sex worker community) and the Design Management Institute in Boston (for our work in imagining new approaches to international humanitarian action with the Overseas Development Institute).

And we’ve relocated to a new design studio in FCB Mihrab Building, Kenya’s tallest building and newest architectural marvel.

Where is Africa headed and how are we keeping pace with its growth? What are the strategic imperatives for those who live, work and strive for positive change across the continent? Here are some year-ending thoughts from our design team…


Carly James

Senior Strategic Designer – ThinkPlace Kenya

2018 was a year marked by unprecedented growth – in people, in work, and in square footage – for ThinkPlace Kenya. In some ways, the market has also been growing and maturing along with us. We’ve seen an emphasis on larger, longer projects that position design as a core strategy for problem-solving.

We’re entering 2019 with a lot of momentum but with a huge need for great and diverse talent. We’ve recruited Lusophone, Francophone, and Amharic-speaking staff this year and we will continue supporting them as our projects expand to new places. In 2019, the Executive team is intent on providing stronger mentorship for our growing staff.


Dean Johnson

Managing Partner – ThinkPlace Kenya

We’ve had a great year in 2018 and made impact in ways we could hardly have imagined. Our big challenge for 2019 is to continue growing our team while expanding the work we do into new territories. Adding French and Portuguese speaking designers to our team has allowed us to take on more work in French-speaking parts of Africa such as the Sahel and Mozambique.

In 2019 we are aiming to expand this further, working on projects to tackle complex challenges in nutrition, sexual health, empowering youth and helping organisations deliver on their ambitious SDG objectives. We are all ready for a short break but we also can’t wait to get started!


Eliot Duffy

Senior Strategic Designer - ThinkPlace Kenya

2018 has been a huge year for the studio! We've seen great growth in the team, both in terms of numbers and capabilities, and had great opportunities to share with our colleagues around the world in ThinkPlace Global through a number of joint projects, and of course the Global Methods Jam earlier this year.

In 2019 we will be looking to sharpen our focus in targeting and tracking how our work contributes to the global effort to achieve 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This year we have seen our work expand to new countries, new sectors, new languages, a new office, new clients and with new team members – I can't wait to see this grow further in 2019. 


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