Research economics body, the Busara Center for Behavioral Economics focuses on undertaking studies on behalf of academics, policy makers and organisations. For the past five years, the organisation has been applying its expertise in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Peru, Fiji, and India. Senior Communications Manager, Nengapate Kuria spoke to The Exchange on how this technique works and its impact on Africa’s economy.
What solutions does the organisation look to offer?
Busara Center for Behavioral Economics is a research and advisory firm that leverages its behavioral science expertise to better understand humans through data. Our core objective is poverty alleviation; as such, we offer real world sustainable solutions that have been rigorously tested in a lab setting to help permanently lift people out of poverty.
When was the idea formulated and what advised this move?
A key component of behavioral science is that context is key to any solution. Our founder Johannes Haushofer noticed a gap when working on a study in Kenya. The research that was being carried out about Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania regions was western-leaning. However the solutions offered, though strategically sound, were not relevant to the circumstance where they were being applied because the insights used did not take into account the people, culture and area. He therefore set out with the mission to build decision labs within these regions that would test appropriate evidence–based solutions, and propose relevant interventions.
Who are your targeted clientele?
We work with governments, NGO’s and funders, corporate organizations and the academia to understand human behavior and design tailored solutions to overcome behavioral barriers to products, programs and policies as they scale. The research we carry out helps enable positive and lasting behavior change to solve social issues more effectively, and help our partners avoid risk, save money and drive impact.
You have been doing this for over five years; what does the future look like in say three years?
We see ourselves as becoming the world leader in deploying behavioral science teams within organizations by rooting it in their culture. This is in addition to building sustained behavioral science units, in partnership with large institutions, to ensure that the solutions offered are applicable when they are scaled-up. The fundamental motivation behind this is bridging the world of research and the real world.
What challenges are you currently facing?
The current main challenge is the COVID-19 pandemic which has given us the opportunity to pivot our skill set by identifying and innovating around how to deploy our research remotely, while still maintaining the quality and rigor of data. So far, we have managed to do so by harnessing the collective skill within our teams to design and develop systems and tools that can be deployed depending on the need and situation at hand.
What message do you have for young investors out there?
Testing is key to every solution you develop. It provides you the opportunity to understand inconsistencies that may cost you when you get to market. Spend time listening, learning, designing and discarding potential solutions until you find the one that might work. Once you do, test and iterate again and again until you get it right.