Product design practice within micro and small enterprises (MSEs) in Kenya case study of sofa design entrepreneurs in Gikomba market, Nairobi
The Micro and Small Enterprise (MSE) sector contributes significantly to Kenya's industrial and economic growth. If provided with the right support and an enabling environment, MSE can enIumce their product design and development capabilities, enhance capacity and create products that enhance the well being of their customers while promoting environmenflllly sensitive production. However, in the context of this research, it is established that MSE sofa-design entrepreneurs do not have sufficient design considerations in the manufacture of sofas, thus leoding to soja seats that do not adhere to user centered or sustainable design principles. The scope of design reaches far beyond the development of decorative products, as design touches on every aspect of human life-health, agriculture, medical services and the higher end technologies. In the design process, designers incorporate various product needs including anthropometries, style and functimullity. Using a mix of design research (praximology) and social research (ethnography) methodologies it focused on five sofa-design entrepreneurs who are owner managers and. who undertake design of soja. The research was mainly qualitative guided by the research questions. Data collection included non-participtmt observation, informal and formal interviews and focus group discussions. The research findings show the informal apprentiaship remains the most common way in which skills are transforred within the MSE sector. Within sofa making, the informal apprenticeship training focuses on technical skills and equipment and machinery handling. However, it does not include design knowledge and skills. As a result, a Design Extension Seruices (DES) model is proposed within in which entrepreneurs can receive training and where slJlkeholders can gather for purposes of impruoement in MSE design skills and knowledge.