Kuja Kuja Sheds Light on Its Mission to Empower Refugees

Jennifer Rose, global design director at Kuja Kuja, a platform for tracking satisfaction in refugee settlements, spoke to Doreen Lorenzo for Fast Company about the importance of making genuine connections and embracing diversity in design.

Rose first fell in love with design once she began learning the letterpress in college. Back then design felt like a noun to her, like a finished piece. Now she describes it more like a verb to her, like a process, one that starts from the research stage and anticipating users needs to create something that’s thoughtful, delightful, functional, and aspirational. Out of college Rose started working at IDEO and ran a program called Launchpad that gave her the opportunity to create products and experiences in complex environments around the world. Later her design team at IDEO would be hired to build the first working prototype and brand for Kuja Kuja by the Minneapolis American Refugee Committee, now known as Alight.

Rose transferred from IDEO over to the American Refugee Committee to work on Kuja Kuja full time. The idea for Kuja Kuja was to be the Yelp for services and refugee settlements, a platform that asks people in these refugee camps and settlements if they are satisfied or not with the service they’re receiving as well as ideas to improve the service. With a goal to provide a good customer experience for people living in these locations, Rose explained how her team of around 70 people across three countries co-design and collaborate on prototyping. The feedback and data they receive is critical which is why Rose designed the brand to be warm and welcoming so users could feel comfortable using it. Their research comes down to making genuine connections and having genuine curiosity.

The culture at Kuja Kuja is about helping each other learn and building teams with different voices, different backgrounds, and different experiences. Rose concluded by stating, ”With diversity comes creativity, and with creativity comes an organization that can be adaptable to the ever-changing world.”

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