Innovation Nation:
A White Paper on Design Thinking in Namibia

Turipamwe proudly presents the pioneering industrial White Paper on Design Thinking in Namibia.

This groundbreaking publication is packed with insights from an original study conducted in 2022,
and it informs how Namibian organisations can approach innovation. Readers can learn about the current applications of design thinking and future possibilities in Namibia's unique context.

A "How to" map for the future-oriented

Turipamwe published a White Paper to raise awareness of design thinking and its links to innovation. The unique publication is the first Namibian White Paper on the topic, and it is a practical map for navigating the landscape of innovation. 

It describes the design thinking process, and its benefits to Namibian businesses, and unveils original research findings on its use in Namibia in 2022. This is, however, not your average White Paper. It comprises an insightful Case Study, illustrating Turipamwe’s transformative experience of embedding design in its business operations, offering tangible examples
of the Do’s and Don’ts for SMEs.

The publication includes a noteworthy contribution from distinguished guest authors exploring the decolonisation of the methodology. It offers recommendations for teams curious to leapfrog their innovation practice and a roadmap for advancing Design Thinking in Namibia.

Readers will find a valuable Glossary to help navigate the innovation jargon. We want this knowledge to be available for all, so the publication will be publicly shared as a free download under Creative Commons.

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White Paper here!

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Launch Event

Kick-off and Keynote

Our event kicked off at The Village Opera House, Windhoek on Thursday, 23 November 2023 with a warm welcome, ushering in an evening of inspiration and discovery. The stage was set with exceptional furniture design by Always Welcome—a multi-brand collective of Southern Africa’s finest designer-maker studios. The panel discussion seating arrangement featured iconic furniture pieces crafted by leading industrial designers. Turipamwe's collaboration with Always Welcome seamlessly amplified the value of emerging African design. Amid this inviting ambience, we delved into an engaging introduction, exploring the history of Turipamwe’s own journey through innovation and design thinking.

Hanno Nevanlinna, the visionary behind Futurice and the Lean Service Creation methodology, delivered an enlightening keynote speech that left us all inspired and eager for the future. Nevanlinna stated

“So, why design thinking? The world is changing rapidly, and that is something that cannot be emphasised enough. Just as COVID transformed the world within a couple of years, generative AIs will evolve in the next five to ten years, impacting how information work is done. It's a massive, ongoing transition, creating significant possibilities for those who can truly grasp it.”

With unwavering conviction, he emphasised the significance of embracing a user-centred perspective, exploring a myriad of 'whys,' and, interestingly, encouraged the design thinker to have a love affair with the problem rather than fixating on the solution. This paved the way for a challenging  Q&A, during which our guests explored the potential pitfalls of using design thinking carelessly. It highlighted the importance of cultivating psychological safety within teams and underscored the value of remaining in the process long enough to measure the project's impact thus unlocking the limitless potential inherent in design thinking methods. 

Introducing Innovation Nation and sharing key findings

Of course, the spotlight of the evening undeniably centred on the eagerly awaited first-of-its-kind in Namibia — the Innovation Nation: White Paper on Design Thinking in Namibia presented by Auri Evokari. Sharing this resource was a moment of excitement and relief, representing two years of dedication and collaborative effort within our team and contributing guest authors. Evokari stated

"What we have learned so far is that the current leadership models are misaligned with the innovative practices employed by employees on the ground."

In her presentation, guests gained valuable insights into the advantages of applying design thinking to businesses, supplemented by original research findings on its application in Namibia in 2022. Additionally, sharing a complementary Turipamwe Case Study, the session showcased its transformative journey in integrating design into business operations, thereby providing a concrete example of both best practices and potential pitfalls for SMEs. 

Watch the Launch

Panel: The Do’s and Don’ts in Leapfrogging Innovation in Namibia:
Lessons Learned and Strategies Explored

A panel discussion ensued on the 'The Do’s and Don’ts in Leapfrogging Innovation in Namibia: Lessons Learned and Strategies Explored', moderated by Tanya Stroh in conversation with Sem Mandela Uutoni, Professor Heike Winschiers-Theophilus and Brad Wilson where we covered different points of view from public to private sector, the role of education institutes and fostering community through long-term commitment. 

Question to Sem Mandela Uutoni: According to the Global Innovation Index 2023, Namibia is 96th (up four spots since two years ago). It’s 6th in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to the report, our innovation level aligns with the overall development level as an Upper middle-income group. How would you describe the level of innovation taking place in Namibia at the moment?

“Innovation in Namibia has come a long way. The challenge lies in trying to create an ecosystem that feeds off of each other and that is ultimately what the essence of optimisation is. It’s not about being ‘small pockets’ in that area; it’s about a unified ecosystem that feeds off of each other in terms of knowledge, resources, and capacity."

Question to Prof Heike Winschiers-Theophilus: Based on this capcity, we move our attention to education institute. Related to the ability to innovate can include creativity, Problem-Solving, Risk-Taking, and Collaboration. The school system I went through most likely supported these skills in various ways. Still, my experience was that I was taught to memorise the correct answer and that there is only one right answer, which I’m supposed to know without asking someone. How would you describe the role of education in improving the innovation ability of Namibians? Can you share an example of work by NUST that supports it?

"Our education system has to reinvent itself. If we want to prepare the new generation to be creative, flexible, and to challenge authority, including technology, one of our recipes is exposure. So, expose the students to whatever they've never seen before. We have the resources, access to international partners, and different technologies. It's about throwing the students into the cold water, pushing them to engage in things they've never done before and allowing them to struggle."

FLTR: Auri Evokari – Author, Sem Mandela Uutoni – Head of Partnerships and Communications, United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), Prof Heike Winschiers-Theophilus – Professor in the Faculty of Computing and Informatics, Namibia University of Science and Technology, Tanya Stroh – Founder Turipamwe, and Brad Wilson –
Digital Acceleration Manager, Ohlthaver & List and Web3 Strategic Advisor

Question to Brad Wilson: Discovering the innovative culture of corporate workplaces like Ohlthaver and List (O&L), we explored how they foster and strengthen innovation skills.
With your corporate experience, what kind of good practices are you aware of that can foster and strengthen innovation skills in the workplace? And can you share a

practical example of how you're currently doing that at Ohlthaver and List?


“One of the key things that we try to drive is breakthrough thinking, which is the O&L term for innovation. Similar to that, collaboration is a crucial element of our culture. We are somewhat rebels in the office, with a pirate flag in the middle of our space.” This allows us to approach other teams and say, 'Hey, we're going to remove this person quickly to do a sprint for two or three days.' It's very tricky to get that done, but because our culture is so strong and speaks to that, we're able to do it. Just for everyone's context, design sprints are, in my perspective, the air fryer version of a Sunday roast, with the Sunday roast being design thinking.

The floor was opened to welcome questions and answers from the audience, adding immense value to the panel discussion and bringing forth additional insights. The night concluded with a vibrant networking mixer, fostering connections and collaborations among industry leaders, experts, and visionaries.

What’s next

For a recap or if you simply want to revisit the details,
feel free to access the white paper here and catch the launch on our

Join the Conversation

We invite you to express your thoughts and takeaways from the event on social media using the hashtag #designthinkingNAM #Innovation #Namibia. Your insights contribute to the ongoing dialogue in our industry.

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As part of our dedication to the Co-Creation service, we conducted a study to comprehend how companies, NGOs, and the public sector in Namibia foster innovation, creativity, and the adoption of Lean methods like Design Thinking. With over a decade of service to the corporate landscape and civil society, Turipamwe identified a need for strategy and innovation facilitation. To address this, we underwent a Lean Service Creation process and developed our new service, Co-Creation, employing the Design Thinking methodology.

However, in entering the Namibian market, the team decided that more awareness is needed in the use of the methodology, and its applications in a wide range of ways – the decolonised and localised, the urban and the rural. Seeking insight into the benefits, opportunities and challenges of Design Thinking in Namibia, Turipamwe conducted an original study with the aim of publishing an industrial White Paper of its findings. The findings aim to propose a way to leapfrog innovation in the country. 

Our Co-Creation and Design Thinking journey for the last 2 years