Our Mission:

Building resilience.

We use the Lead User method for identifying local innovation for drought resilience in Ethiopia and Kenya.

Resilience means the ability of a system, community or society exposed to hazards to resist, absorb, accommodate, adapt to, transform and recover from the effects of a hazard in a timely and efficient manner.
— United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR)

Our project

This joint research project aims at finding local innovations in Ethiopia and Kenya that reduce the impact of droughts to individuals, local societies and the environment. Such may include local innovations by individuals as well as collaborative solutions of (smaller) communities. Our tool for surfacing innovation is the so-called Lead User Method that uses the innovative potential of local communities for innovation identification.


Project partners


Hamburg University of Technology - Institute for TEchnology and Innovation Management (TIM)

The TIM institute at Hamburg University of Technology is dedicated to research, teaching and consulting in various fields of innovation management.


Hamburg University of Technology - Institute for Entrepreneurship

The Institute for Entrepreneurship at Hamburg University of Technology is is an experienced partner in the development of business ideas and the commercialization of Lead User innovations.


International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

The IFRC is the world’s largest humanitarian and development network, with millions of volunteers in 190 member National Societies. Our project partner is the Global Innovation Team based in Geneva.


Ethiopian Red Cross Society(ERCS)

The Ethiopian Red Cross Societywas established in 1935. It is a  humanitarian organization with about 47,000 volunteers and 1,900 employees.



Kenya Red Cross

Established in 1965, Kenyan Red Cross is a humanitarian organization with about 111,000 volunteers and 1,200 employees.



Endeva has been researching and consulting on the development and implementation of business models for poverty reduction in developing and emerging countries for more than ten years.



Our approach:

The Lead User method

Users innovate when they cannot find suitable products in the market that satisfy their needs. Those user innovations are frequently developed by so called Lead Users. Lead Users face new needs of the market significantly earlier than the majority of the customers in a market segment (capability). They profit strongly from innovations that provide a solution to those needs (motivation). As a consequence, Lead Users already develop product ideas or even first prototypes when commercial products do not yet exist.


A valuable source of innovation

In this project, persons who are Lead Users with respect to drought resilience shall be identified in Ethiopia and Kenya. Those Lead Users might have developed a physical product, a (digital) service or a concept that improves their resilience towards droughts.


The Lead User method was invented by Prof. Eric von Hippel from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and further co-developed by Prof. Cornelius Herstatt from Hamburg University of Technology.

Further reading:


Our ongoing activities:


Previous project

Flood resilience in Indonesia

In 2017, we implemented the Lead User method in Indonesia to identify local innovations for flood resilience.


Project partner

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Geneva and Jakarta, the Indonesian Red Cross (Palang Merah Indonesia, PMI) and the Institute for Technology and Innovation Management (TIM) at Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH).


We applied the Lead User method in order to better understand the most relevant macro and micro drivers causing floods in Indonesia and to identify promising local innovations developed by Lead Users.

Project aim

Identification of local innovations in rural and semi-urban areas in Indonesia that reduce the impact of floods to local communities and the environment.



We identified 25 Lead User who developed innovative solutions to increase flood resilience that can be distinguished according to seven different categories: tangible products, nature-based, education, software & apps, community-based, service and business model, and grassroot. We brought together ten Lead User at the first Innovations in Floor Resilience Conference in Jakarta on February 23-24, 2017.

Further information



Get Involved

We are seeking for experts, Lead User, and researcher who are knowledgeable in the field of drought at the horn of Africa. We appreciate your interest and look forward to getting in touch with you.



For experts and Researcher

Are you an expert in drought, drought resilience or  related topics? Are you conducting research in this field?  Are you interested in new ways of surfacing local innvation?

For innovators

Did you develop a solution to increase drought resilience? Do you want to get connected to other innovators?



Project funding


Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Germany)

RESTORE is a 6-month project fundet by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF, grant number 01DG18010). The German title of the project is "REsilienz-STärkung vor Ort gegenüber DürRE –  Die Lead-User-Methode als Werkzeug zur Identifizierung, Weiterentwicklung und Skalierung lokaler innovativer Technologien in Äthiopien und Kenia". It is part of the funding measure Internationales Katastrophen- und Risikomanagement – IKARIM.


The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)


IFRC's Global Innovation Team is supporting the RESTORE project as part of their endavours in supporting local innovation.