Why Did this 19-Year-Old Make a Life Decision Based on a Prototype?

by Tyler LePard, A360 Communications Consultant, PSI

Nineteen-year-old Amaru was scared of using contraception. Friends had said it could cause severe headaches and abdominal cramps. She’d also heard it would pause a woman’s monthly bleeding, causing blood to accumulate in the uterus — not to mention that implants were painful to insert and remove.

As part of the Adolescents 360 (A360) project, an Adolescent Health Coordinator and health extension worker knocked on Amaru and her husband’s door and introduced them to Smart Start—a financial-planning tool that helps young couples make joint decisions about having children.

As parents of an eight-month old and farmers in Fiche, Ethiopia, Amaru and her husband weren’t anxious to have another child. Smart Start helped them realize the financial impact of having more children, visually expressing the cost of raising a child in comparison to the cost of food to feed their family. The tool also teaches about various methods of contraception, and gives couples prompts to have important conversations about their dreams together.

The Smart Start tool was created with input from couples just like Amaru and her husband, using A360’s human-centered design approach of building empathy, getting insights and making prototypes. Once a simply made prototype, many iterations of the tool were quickly tested and Amaru and her husband benefited from the insights collected throughout the iterative process.

Confident that she and her husband didn’t want another child just yet, but not completely convinced about contraception, Amaru attended a group Smart Start session later that week. She heard a woman talk about her experience with an implant. She realized the myths her friends had shared were misinformed. Amaru was so inspired that immediately after the session she went to the clinic and got her own implant.

Amaru now enthusiastically tells other women in her community about her implant and shares her knowledge about contraception. This 19-year-old, who was once a skeptic, is now a fierce advocate, dedicated to sharing how girls in her community can have a chance to realize their dreams too.

Still today, on World Population Day 2017, 214 million women and girls don’t want to get pregnant but don’t have access to or knowledge about modern contraception. Amaru used to be like those girls. Adolescents like Amaru are the reason that A360 is working with youth in Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Tanzania to design solutions for the contraceptive needs of themselves and their peers.

A360 puts girls at the center–involving youth in the process and fusing developmental neuroscience, cultural anthropology, public health, marketing, and human-centered design in order to develop contraceptive solutions that adolescents want and that will work best for them.

We’ve launched the A360 Learning Hub to share our approach, what we’re learning along the way, and the progress that we’ve made so far. The Learning Hub will provide frequent updates and insights from all aspects of A360. Join us at adolescents360.org.


Adolescents 360 (A360) is a four-year project aimed to increase access to and uptake of voluntary modern contraception among adolescent girls (15-19 years old) in Tanzania, Ethiopia and Nigeria. The project fuses public health, marketing, human-centered design, developmental neuroscience, and cultural anthropology and meaningfully engages young people in the design and delivery of solutions that respond to their specific and varied needs. A360 is led by Population Services International, together with IDEO.org, the Center on the Developing Adolescent at the University of California Berkeley, Triggerise, and the Society for Family Health Nigeria. A360 is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation.