Empower BOP

Design With Bottom Of Pyramid – Succeeding through knowledge collaboration

For several years, I was pondering over the wisdom, value, and practical impact of my own involvement in technology and management to society, just to come up empty.   Since then, I have also been wondering, “what if we use the same skills to empower the economics of global poverty?”  To answer that, I embarked upon various trips to rural India and leading NGOs and came up with unique conclusion.

In an increasingly complex world, creating a sustainable business model for poor is challenging.  The core team must be socially inclined as ultimate sustainability must come from members finding satisfaction from social change. Typical innovation or true social change comes by creating long lasting practices, evolving ideas and weaving best partnership with ecosystems aligned with similar goals. Team should be focused on creating solutions along with the community that needs it most.  Bottom of Pyramid (BOP) communities are resource crunched, as a result service recipient of BOP must see improvement in resource utilization before signing up for any service. Hence, team must be very much focused on building human centric design first.

Leading social sector leaders such as NGOs, social enterprises and civic movements are frequently trapped as they do not have a capacity to tap potentially immense knowledge available outside. What if we have a platform that allows tapping seemingly unlimited skills and capacity outside these leading organizations?  This collaborative eco-system can foster amazing potential for an organization, social movement or revolution for creating high quality products for improving life of a poor. This amazing social gifting platform can provide unlimited social currency and joy of making difference in the world.

India’s growth during the last decade has resulted in an acute skill gap at the management level of most NGOs and early social enterprises. In recent times, their roles have become lot more complex and demand more knowledge and experience in better design, technology and management practices including experience of working with market based practices.  Western countries, including the US, are fertile ground with professionals experienced in some of these fields who can offer their recognized expertise to fill this challenge.  Keeping this gap in mind, this platform aims to solve few complex challenges.

These universities typically do run their own “design challenges”; frequently they do not have a strong tie up with field where real design improvement or challenges are identified.  Based on my discussion with leading intellectual scholar like Vivek Wadhwa, father of social innovation Dr. Paul Polak and successful entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, Indians For Collective Action (ICA) is building unique platform for universities across the world to support design, innovation and social change through volunteering in a very meaningful way.  This platform aims to bridge design gap required for products aimed at improving quality of life of the BOP communities.

Collaborating with leading design thinkers, leading NGOs  such as SEWA and Aravind Eye, and entrepreneurship leader like IIM-A, we can solve key demand side challenge.  In addition, active social innovation lab focused on product development cycle and based on human centered design for low tech medical devices, civic & mobile engagements, sustainable energy can foster new breed of social entrepreneurs.  ICA is actively working on building such an ecosystem in a hope of engaging community.  So, please join us!