Extreme Affordability

We at ThinkChange India, have reported (and discussed) extensively on serving people at the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP). One such initiative is the Entreprenurial Design for Extreme Affordability effort under the aegis of Stanford Institute of Design.

The name clearly conveys the objective of the initiative – innovating in design to gain advantage in terms of cost – which in turn helps the product being available to a larger chunk of the population. Their mission is

To treat the poor as customers, not as charity recipients. We believe in listening to the needs the poor tell us about, not assuming we know best. We believe in products and services designed for specific cultural contexts, not just Western hand-me-downs. And we believe that careful attention to design can create innovative-and extremely affordable-solutions to the problems of the other 90%.

Exactly the same idea as espoused by BoP approach. The center believes it is high time that we start designing and creating products and services for less fortunate chunk of the society.

An interesting project being undertaken is Embrace – an infant incubator that costs around USD 25. The project also won the 2008 Echoing Green Fellowship. Needless to say in a country like India, where medical facilities, especiall at the rural level, leave much to be desired, innovations like these will help India correct the currenly skewed social indicators. They are currently preparing for clinical trials in – you guessed it right – India 🙂

Read more about product here. Also do read about other ongoing projects under Entreprenurial Design for Extreme Affordability.

Amartya Sen encapsulates why we should care

One of the ongoing discussions that is linked ot the field of social entrepreneurship is the very nature of what this concept truly means. In a talk held at Stanford University this week, Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen eloquently and concisely spoke to the issues of empowerment and enlightenment, and I feel as though his words form a great basis for our own conceptualization of our purposes here.

1- If you feel threatened it makes intelligent discourse impossible
2- For creating a just society: Empowerment is not enough. You must to ensure “enlightened empowerment” which can only come from public discussion and giving a political voice (to those who are not being heard)
3 – Recognition (or fame) can useful unless it becomes a substitute for doing anything useful

These points were summarized by Neerja Raman on Digital Provide: From Good to Gold.