In a world with microchip implants, car-to-car communication, and talk of drone delivery services, it can seem as if innovation is becoming increasingly high-tech. But what about the world’s poorest, for whom such gadgets are out of reach? What types of innovation would be most beneficial for them?
These questions are the driving force behind efforts in “frugal innovation” — designing products specifically to meet the needs of the world’s poorest people. The concept challenges innovators to do more with less. In general, the creators of frugal innovations strive for them to be affordable, sustainable, lightweight and rugged. Wherever possible, they should be made locally with renewable materials. Perhaps most important, they should be developed with the end user in mind, taking into consideration things like power outages in her village, the distance she must walk to seek medical assistance and religious customs she considers sacred.
—Sarika Bansal, Innovation Within Reach