The Butterfly Works method

We believe that one of us is never as smart as all of us and that every problem is best solved by the people who experience it every day. The community is the driving force behind all of our projects and the progress, while together we gather the initial resources, mobilise expertise and connect the dots. Our method focuses on mobilising and empowering people according to their expertise. Honouring these different insights is what leads to innovative and effective solutions. We are proud to say that this has led to more than 40 exciting projects over the past 15 years.

The seven elements of our method

We are an expert on the process of developing and implementing unique, innovative and contextualised solutions that make the most of what is already there. Using relevant technology, design and entrepreneurial thinking, we spark untapped potential and empower people. The Butterfly Works method consists of 7 elements. Depending on the project’s phase certain elements are more relevant than others. Find out more below, or download our White paper for a more in-depth understanding.

Social need

All projects benefit from a sharply defined social need, which becomes the primary focus throughout the project. We work with local “problem owners” to define this need, to start scanning for opportunities, and create an actor network.


Research activities aim to generate more in-depth knowledge of the social need, country context, craft and talent possibilities, target groups, local partners and market demands. Research lays a solid foundation for the development and implementation of a project and it might lead to unexpected sources of inspiration.


Ideation is the creative process of generating new ideas. In the process the concept takes shape, and a strong (business) model and visual identity are developed. It includes a co-creation workshop, concept development and a final concept presentation.


Once a concept is finalised, we begin to produce the tools and develop a project strategy. Collaboratively building the concept brings participants closer together, strengthens communal ties, builds capacity and ensures ownership.


Testing is important to ensure usability and a good fit with the target audience. Testing activities lead to a collective evaluation that forms the basis for a sustainable strategy.

Sustainable strategy

Our ultimate goal is to find durable answers to social needs, which is why a sustainable strategy is such a critical element of the Butterfly Works method. We develop and implement a long-term strategy so that the project can exist independently and catalyse a positive chain of events.

Scaling up

Scaling up involves the continuous process of improving and embedding the project. When a sustainable strategy is implemented our direct involvement decreases. However, we believe that a solution is never finite therefore we often continue to work together on scaling activities.