Frugal Hyperinnovation Tools.
Hyperlogic: if you innovate life saving, life subsistence, life enabling products, and then make and sell them at a frugal price that the very poor can afford and you still make a fair return, then you set off a virtuous circle. People at the bottom of the pyramid begin to climb the wall out of crisis. Well that is the first step in the frugal innovation equation.
A further step is slightly – or fantastically – more ambitious: to innovate systems of technologies and tools that build basic infrastructure development that supplies clean water and foods, habitats and agriculture systems, etc, etc that the very poor can invest in through micro-loans and community pooling investors.
One par excellence enterprise here is Open Source Ecology (OSE); a young firm based in Minnesota, US. They explain:
‘Open Source Ecology
is a network of farmers, engineers, and supporters that for the last two years has been creating the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS), an open source, low-cost, high performance technological platform that allows for the easy, DIY fabrication of the 50 different Industrial Machines that it takes to build a sustainable civilization with modern comforts. The GVCS lowers the barriers to entry into farming , building , and manufacturing and can be seen as a life-size Lego-like set of modular tools that can create entire economies , whether in rural Missouri, where the project was founded, in urban redevelopment, or in the developing world.’
OSE was founded by Marcin Jakubowski just over a decade ago and true Hyperinnovator. His ambition is ‘closed-loop manufacturing a reality.’ His main focus is ‘evolving to freedom by eliminating resource scarcity as the main force behind human relations - with the wise use of modern technology adapted for human service.’ The OSE strategy:
‘The Global Village Construction Set (GVCS)
is an open technological platform that allows for the easy fabrication of the 50 different Industrial Machines that it takes to build a small civilization with modern comforts. Key Features of the GVCS: Open Source – Low Cost Modular – User Serviceable – DIY – Closed-Loop Manufacturing – Heirloom Design – Flexible Fabrication.
A modern, comfortable lifestyle relies on a variety of efficient Industrial Machines. If you eat bread, you rely on an Agricultural Combine. If you live in a wood house, you rely on a Sawmill. Each of these machines relies on other machines in order for it to exist. If you distil this complex web of interdependent machines [Hyperinnovation] into a reproduceable, simple, closed-loop system, you get these:’
OSE GVCS 50 include 3D Printer: an additive manufacturing technology where a three dimensional object is printed by laying down successive layers of material, just like a printer except in 3D. A 3D Scanner a device that can generate a 3D digital scan from a real-life object, where the file can be used to reproduce the object in 3D with a device such as the 3D printer or CNC Precision Multimachine. Linear Solar Concentrator an infinitely-scalable, linear device which concentrates solar radiation onto a linear target for generating heat or steam to produce electricity.
From Frugal Consumers to Prosumers to Micro-Producers.
All people are valuable. It is absurd to say otherwise. But more, for the countless faces that live in misery, they want to express their values, their worth, their creativity and not only in financially gaining ways. The deprived people I am talking about do not simply come to terms with their deprivation – because of the shear necessity of survival – they are born into poverty.
Even without the sophisticated economic analysis, being a frugal consumer may give a slightly above subsistence position. What lifts the extreme poor out of poverty is individual productivity. By introducing frugal goods and services that give an element of production, whether in the form of device that can chill, heat, light, cut, clamp, secure, mend, make, energize, and infinite et al, the very poor not only stay alive, they have access to possibilities.
There is an argument that the poor at the basement of the world’s economy are so very poor that 80-to-90 percent of the $2 a day goes directly on subsistence of foods, water, clothing, hygiene, but little else. Again, statistics can not only lie and distort, but simply do not give up the whole picture. If outgoings where devoted completely to survival needs, then how do they afford to buy even the most fundamental frugal possibility empowering goods? Simple wares that get them going?
Think of it this way: rather than merely focusing on the poor as consumers, we need to view the ultra-underprivileged as prosumers with a long-term view as micro-producers. Because the only way to alleviate poverty is to raise real incomes at the bottom of the poverty hierarchy. And that means positive sum gaming.
What products and service provisions can be innovated that set-up a positive feedback-loop that enables them not only to do well initially, but scales up very quickly and progressively to standards of income where individuals and families and local communities can develop thier homes and neighbourhoods? Set up first tear neighbourhood markets?
From Make Do to Breakthrough.
In the west, most startups catastrophically fail or slowly wind-up in apathy within the first five years. The reasons are manifold; no demand, no market, no rocket science, being the main! But in regions depicted by server scarcity, insolvency or otherwise, is not the same picture at all. According to a number of charities specialising in microfinance in the developing world, tell of a not so surprising story given facts.
Microloan Foundation (below) has been helping small businesses for over 15 years with resounding success. They say that full repayment of such microloans is better than 97 percent among total loans (3 percent shortage being down to human fatality, disease, war or hardship). The unsurprised lies in the fact that people on the street of Darfur or Deffer, or on the islands of Malawi and Caltic, are not driven merely by an aspiration to acquire wealth or fulfil a dream or adventure, but stark reality. Survival of the fittest. Hunger, dehydration, a place to sleep and preserve. Fear and lack of voice and all the anxious knotted rest, drives their needs to start and make a frugal subsistence business. It means life or death (try teaching that at the London or Harvard Business Schools!).
Frugal Microfinance is the supply of loans, savings, and other basic financial services to the poor for investment in frugal commercial ventures. Microloans in developed nations often go form $10-thousand dollars to around $50-thousand. Only, and now obviously, in a profoundly poorer countries and regions individual loans can be as little $100. For team or community ventures it can run to serval thousand. In rural India for example 100 dollars would be the world for an individual to buy a mobile phone, enabling through new mobile digital banking systems to receive wages and transfer money home to their family.
During the 1980s, micro-enterprise credit concentrated on providing loans to poor women to invest in tiny businesses, enabling them to accumulate assets and raise household income and welfare. In the 1990s, many of these institutions transformed themselves into formal financial institutions in order to access and on-lend client savings, thus enhancing their outreach.
The pioneering of contemporary microfinance is often attributed to Dr. Mohammad Yunus, who started experimenting with lending to deprived women in the village of Jobra, Bangladesh during his tenure as a professor of economics at Chittagong University in the 1970s. He would go on to found Grameen Bank in 1983 and win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.