What happens when an industrial designer, doesn't want to design things for the sake of design? They might go out and impact the world in a new and novel way, and that's just what Jasmine Burton has done.
While in high school, Jasmine wanted to be an artist but was talked out of it by friends and family, but that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. During her first semester at Georgia Tech (GT), she was taking a class on cradle-to-grave design and realized that she wanted to design something long lasting and that wasn’t going to add to landfills. And as fate would have it, she attended the GT Women’s Leadership Conference and met an alumna who works in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector. She also found out that toilets are a barrier to many women achieving their potential - so off to races she went! Immediately she called her parents and said, “I’m going to design toilets” - which was, of course, a surprise to them.
Working with Wayne Li, she was a part of an all-female senior design team that was tasked with designing a portable toilet for use in a refugee camp. They even had the opportunity to present their work to wastewater epidemiologists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at the end of the semester, which was exciting. At the GT Capstone Expo, they were invited to participate in the GT InVenture Prize Competition semifinal round which was a total surprise. The team ended up being the first all-female team to win First Place and the People’s Choice Awards with a basic foam toilet. Within 4 weeks of winning, they built, shipped and installed 10 toilets in the Kakuma Refugee camp in Northern Kenya. So the design thinking process and idea got kicked into high gear! The best part was that the entire design studio class became involved including the shop instructors to help make the dream a reality. And while it was definitely stressful, with their incredible communities of support - they pulled it off.
After graduating from Georgia Tech, Jasmine was surprised by the amount she had to learn about all the sewerage infrastructure, sanitation policies, and everything that goes into public hygiene and toilets. A lot of culture nuance also plays a major part in how people perceive and use toilets which is critical to keep in mind. Jasmine has since founded Wish for WASH as an organization to continue bringing innovation to sanitation with a culturally specific research, design and education approach.
Wish for WASH is deeply rooted in Georgia Tech to this day and has a promising future ahead of it. Over the past 5 years under Jasmine’s leadership, Wish for WASH has demonstrated their commitment to their mission by creating a multiplier effect whereby they recruit, equip, train, empower and meaningfully engage 100+ people under the age of 30 and largely based in Atlanta to lead work in reaching ~170+ people directly with innovative sanitation pilots (such as design thinking pilots with our patented SafiChoo toilet design) in both Atlanta and in Sub- Saharan Africa. These young leaders then recruit, equip, train, empower and meaningfully engage new Wish for WASH members with an innovative and inclusive lens. Collectively, they have also reached 15000+ people indirectly with our 100+ community and global events, talks, 3 learning reports, 5 workshops and 45+ press/media features. According to an Impact Analysis conducted by a One Young World Consultant, Wish for WASH has a 1:3 Social Return on Investment ratio.
The Education pillar for Wish for WASH is all about doing workshops with the community and with organizations like Girl Scouts and seek to empower people to use design thinking in the WASH sector. "In the STEM fields especially in design - work in the Impact Economy is often actually seen as an aspirational career path. But there is so much need and opportunity for designers and people in STEM to drive sustainable social change in this sector," Jasmine says.
Currently Wish for WASH is on version 3.0 of their flagship toilet (known as the SafiChoo toilet) and have been using a CNC manufacturing processes to produce the toilets. They hope to conduct a market viability pilot once the world emerges from COVID-19 and they hope that they can raise increased funding for larger scale toilet product production as well as for increased WASH educational and advocacy activities.
In addition to being the Founder and CEO of Wish for WASH, Jasmine is also the Founder and Principal of the Hybrid Hype, which is her independent consulting firm that has enabled her to bootstrap much of Wish for WASH’s work to date. Some of examples of her independent consulting work includes: leading strategic health communications and data visualization projects at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC)through the COVID-19 pandemic era; founding the world’s first sanitation focused business accelerator program at the Toilet Board Coalition; and supporting the product and marketing strategy for the disruptive gender equality startup Equilo.
She ultimately wants to further enable diverse professionals in driving sustainable solutions and social impact in order to help the world reach the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Beyond work, Jasmine does a lot of community service and civic engagement work locally in Atlanta.
Overall Jasmine is on a mission to create a more equitable world by driving impact at the intersection of innovation and inclusion. She is disrupting a number of fields, providing opportunities for diverse voices to be heard, helping drive more sustainable solutions, and ultimately changing the world one flush at a time.
You can follow Jasmine here and be sure to check out everything that she has going on, because it is a lot of great stuff.