The Okoa Project

Mechanical Engineer + Product Designer | 2016-2019
I leveraged user research and mechanical design to build motorcycle ambulances, now providing healthcare access to over 10,000 people in Ghana.
Rural populations have the highest rate of preventable infant mortality in the world. In 2016, I joined a team of engineers to research, prototype, and implement an accessible solution for mothers worldwide. I conducted user research on healthcare in rural Tanzania, designed a motorcycle ambulance, prototyped in the field, helped raise initial capital, and began implementing these ambulatory devices in the area. In 2019 we launched our pilot phase and reached two communities in Southern Tanzania.
Research & Design
From day one, we began with community-centered design. We partnered with a local NGO - The Olive Branch for Children, who were already doing incredible work in our target areas. This gave us a great base to begin user research, concept testing, and finding insights. After the initial investigation, I created the original CAD and conducted FEA to begin preliminary analyses.
Key Insight
From our initial research, we realized a huge opportunity to leverage existing infrastructure - motorbikes. If we could create a universal attachment, we could transform any motorcycle into a lifesaving ambulance.
Prototyping, Manufacturing, and Implementation
Armed with our research findings, we traveled to a Northern Tanzanian innovation hub Twende and worked with experts to understand what materials, processes, and resources were locally available. Here, we created our first field-ready prototype and tested it with motorcycle drivers in various conditions. This resulted in an iterative design loop of testing, multiple stakeholder feedback, and redesign.

We worked with community partners at the Olive Branch for children and Twende. Leveraging their manufacturing and contextual expertise, we created a meaningful product.

We began our first pilot program in October 2018. I worked with the project until 2019, when we completed over 100 rides and delivered five ambulances to communities. The organization has expanded to 15 communities with 25 ambulances and serves over 10,000 people.