Design 2 Transform, reflections on our journey

 In Graphic Design

This is a guest article contributed by Nelson Kwaje.

Design to Transform is an initiative that aims at transforming communities through the use of digital technology.

We exist to transfer knowledge, build capacity and equip local talent.


To design is to “decide upon the look and functioning of something “ or to architecture things. This first bit of the name refers to the creative talent and skills we possess.

Our community is full of people who are creators, people with good imagination and the ability to model and shape objects and resources around them to make meaning.

In this sense, we are a community of creators and makers.


To transform is to “make a thorough or dramatic change in the form, appearance, or character of something ”

Here you have it, the second part of our name is all about making a difference in our society, country and the continent “I am mean Africa”.

Whatever we do we must have a positive impact on our society, we ought to constantly engage our creative imagination and use new techniques to solve old and new problems by leveraging the power of technology.

How it Started

At its inception, D2T started with the goal of “Developing websites for CBOs to help in increasing their visibility online ”, see Nelson Kwaje and Stephen Machua explain this in an interview with Ebru Africa TV.


A Hackathon in Nairobi (Jan 30th, 2016 )

Pauline Mwangi (a D2T mentor ) Explaining web design concepts to one of the groups.

This was the inaugural event. We managed to build six websites. All of them were children’s homes.

See the report.


Hackathon in Nairobi (March 19th, 2016)

Participants pose for a group photo after the Hackathon.

This was our second event we built nine websites. This event coincided with the international women’s day and most of the community-based organization websites we built focused on women empowerment.

The main partner for this event was LIVELUVO. See more info here and here

Training & a Hackathon in Mombasa (20–21st May 2016)

Kevin Barassa (a D2T Trainer ) demonstrating some practical concept of web programming to a group of girls during the Mombasa training.

We were invited by SwahiliPot Hub to help with training and building websites. We built six websites. And trained 30 + participants on web development, social media management, and digital storytelling.

See full report here


Training & a Hackathon in Mombasa (8–10th September 2016)

D2T training team, from left Dan King’ori, William Wanyama, Dorcas Adhiambo, Waithira Kunene, Stephen Machua and Nelson Kwaje (in front)

In partnership with SwahiliPot and the SEACOM, we had a three-day event Which included training for two days and on the third we built eight websites for CBOs located in Mombasa. See Magdalene Kamu (Director of SwahiliPot ) explaining the event in this video

This training covered subjects such as blogging, social media, web programming, and building websites using CMSs


A Bootcamp in South Sudan (24th-28th October 2016)

A participant explaining some Mobile Applications concepts to his classmates during the five days boot camp in South Sudan.

In partnership with UNESCO YouthMobile Project and UNDP South Sudan, we held 5 days boot camp in Juba, the capital city of South Sudan.

The students went through a hands-on training on mobile App development. This included lessons on User Experience design (UX), an Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming with Java, and the basics of Android Studio.

The training also resulted in the development of a mobile App that promotes teaches peace and promotes peaceful coexistence in South Sudan.

See the full report here


African Summit on Entrepreneurship and Innovation (ASENTI).

Design 2 Transform partnered with ASENTI to present to entrepreneurs on how to use technology to empower local communities.


Great people

D2T team, an amazing selfie on the beach during our first Mombasa trip in May 2016 . from Left Nelson Kwaje, Percilla Njira, William Wanyama, Dan King’ori and Tabitha Mwai (in front )

The community is comprised of people. When you set out to help the community that’s when you discover how the number of people who are just out there waiting to help it with you. At all our events people gave their time to help the D2T vision come to fruition.

We had graphic designers, programmers, events organizers, website designers, and writers. Not only did we benefit but also our volunteers learned new skills during the events.

We were given space by iHub with no reservations. All we had to do is request them early and pick a day that worked for them. We even got UX lab trainers at our second event.

Our organizers were and have always been friends who volunteered their time and talent to help the events become a success.



The first event was self-funded. That is the general term used but in reality, we were so broke one day before the event and did not know what to do, we had to borrow money from one of our colleague’s mum, she gave us 10000 Ksh(100 USD)which was enough to pay for food and snacks. The venue was provided by the iHUB free of charge.

You can achieve so much if you put your mind to it.

Somehow we managed to make do.

In our subsequent events, we partnered with organizations who had interests in helping the community grow. They include; LIVELUVO, Kenic, SwahiliPot, SEACOM, UNDP, UNESCO, YALI Nairobi and many others, refer to our event publicity to see the full list.


The gains and growth of D2T

  • We gained enormous experience in organizing events and coordination of activities, in fact, we got so good that we compiled a 13-page guide for organizing our events.
  • The D2T brand grew big very fast, this gave us the ability partner with “big” organizations easily.
  • We had some of the most committed and talented people work with us, this helped us deliver professional work to our partners and beneficiaries.

The shortcomings of D2T

Reading this report you would think everything went hunky dory in 2016. It didn’t and we have experienced a number of challenges that we are trying to work on.


  • Lack of a sustainable model to connect with the beneficiary Organizations after the Hackathon.
  • Keeping the conversation (thus members supporting the community) going after the Hackathon- for the participants and CBOs
  • Skills development after the Hackathon. The participants learn skills in the Hackathon that need to be developed beyond the event.
  • Lack of accurate metrics for measuring impact.
  • some of the CBOs we worked with had very high expectations that we were not able to meet.
  • Most of our trainers are unpaid volunteers, this makes it hard for us to maintain them in such a competitive market and even harder for them to earn a living.

Where we are heading next

We are launching a D2T academy that will focus on providing high-quality ICT training with the aim of bridging the skills gap in the African continent and increasing digital literacy among our population.

Thanks and appreciation to everyone who has helped us reach this far.

See more photos here


How have you contributed in bring impact in our society share your story?

Nelson Kwaje is the Founder and the Team Leader of WEB 4 ALL Ltd; a Kenyan based web design company that provides Innovative online solutions. He is an avid problem solver and enjoys taking new challenges head-on. On the other hand, he also spends his time leading Design 2 Transform – an organization that aims in social change through local talents. You’re welcome to connect with him on Twitter

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