Meet the PhD: Rachel Howell

In every CFIA newsletter, one of our PhD candidates introduces oneself and gives an update about their research progress. In April 2019, you can meet PhD candidate Rachel Howell. She is a PhD candidate in the NWO MVI project "Frugal Innovations and Responsible Entrepreneurship: Case Studies in the Water and Health Sectors in East Africa.)

Rachel Howell"I joined CFIA after finishing my master in Engineering and Policy Analysis at TU Delft. Before, during and after my master I did research and worked for start-ups and NGOs primarily in East Africa on solar off grid electrification. My first degree was mechanical engineering, but through my work during my studies and after I realized that in an emerging market setting technical problems require a more interdisciplinary approach."

"My PhD research focused on the consumer side of frugal innovations: how companies can reach their intended low income group while still being profitable, and why and how consumers make purchasing decisions for bottled drinking water. During my PhD I did field work on consumers and non-consumers of two low cost bottled drinking water companies (Dutch Water Limited and Jibu, Inc) in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda to investigate the types of the consumers these companies are reaching and how the consumers make purchasing decisions. Part of the field work was a small behavioural study where non-consumers were split into a control and treatment group to see whether receiving a “nudge” of a free bottle of water influenced the decision to purchase the water."

"I plan to finish my PhD by the end of this year so this final period I am working on publishing several papers from my data on consumers and non-consumers of two bottled water companies in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda."

More information
Dutch Water Limited (DWL)
Jibu