Category Archives: Agricultural Development

TIECON Social Enterprise Track Provides New Perspective

For the first time TIECON EAST – TiE Boston’s annual conference on entrepreneurship and innovation – had a dedicated track on Social Enterprise. The three panels in the track – ‘Healthcare Innovation in a Global Village’, ‘IT & Communications for the Developing World’ and ‘Feeding 9 Billion people’ – were all well attended and engaged the attentive audience with the incisive discussions. Here are some excerpts from an article I wrote for Lokvani about the sessions. Continue reading

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Reply to comment about Rural Indian Consumer

In response to my recent post on Rural Consumers, Joost Bonsen of MIT commented.

Thanks much for your survey of the rural consumer landscape in India. I’m curious how what you’re observing either reinforces or differs from the Hart-Prahalad BOP thesis and the cases they give, such as Hindustan Lever, etc. Plus how much of the consumer goods sector is dominated by MNCs or affiliates versus homegrowns? And finally, what’s the rural analog to Walmart or the old Sears Roebuck catalog or other innovations in the distribution systems?

I got to thinking about what he had asked and decided to write up a separate post instead of replying as a comment. So here goes. Continue reading

The Increasing Focus on the Rural Indian Consumer

I have been in India for the past week and one of the trends I have noticed is the increased focus on the rural market. Perhaps it is the ongoing elections or maybe the global recession, but companies across the board seem to have a renewed emphasis on targeting the rural consumer.

Culling thru the headlines there are a few key facts that seem to stand out: Continue reading

Paul Polak’s Twelve Steps to Practical Problem Solving

Paul Polak is a physiatrist by training but has spent the past 25 years working to alleviate poverty in the developing world. His non-profit, International Development Enterprises, has come up with innovative low cost technologies that have improved the local livelihood of people at the bottom of the pyramid. For example the simply designed bamboo treadle pump has sold over 1.7 million copies and generated over $1.4 billion in farmer revenue in Bangladesh.

Paul has encapsulated his learnings in a book Out of Poverty that describes a number of these technologies. More recently, Paul has posted an interesting video on You tube that summarizes his Twelve Steps to Practical Problem Solving.

Some of the observations are commonsense ones but it is remarkable how often people forget them in their eagerness to push technology.

First-hand Village Level Perspectives

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to visit the Deshpande Foundation’s Social Entrepreneurship Sandbox in the Hubli/Dharwad area. The Foundation was established by Desh Deshpande, who is well known in the US as a serial entrepreneur, and his wife Jaishree. In India, they have focused on their home town of Hubli/Dharwad in Northern Karnataka to conduct an innovative experiment in accelerating social entrepreneurship in rural India. Continue reading