Recap Dialogue on Frugal Innovation

Published on
September 30, 2016

On Wednesday 28 September Otherwise organised a dialogue concerning the use of frugal innovation in developing parts of the world. Olivier De Coster wrote a small recap of this event for OtherWise!

Frugal innovation is the reduction of complexity and production costs of durable products such as mobile phones, water pumps and small weather stations. This can have a positive impact on third world markets.

Two speakers gave presentations, each focusing on their expertise on the subject: Haye Hazenberg gave an introduction on frugal innovation and its ethical aspects, while Iva Pesa discussed a practical example in Africa, namely the use of smartphones as a way of payment (mobile money). Videos were shown of entrepreneurship in Africa by both locals as well as foreign companies. Subsequent discussions addressed the effectiveness of frugal innovation on the development of rural areas.

Also the ethics of multinationals in for example health care systems of developing countries were mentioned. Private companies usually have more resources than the public sector or NGO’s for investments in local markets, though their main motivation remains profit. Along with innovation it is important to take into account the education of the local customers for long-term usefulness. Another aspect in making innovation more durable, is financial inclusion of these user in the new system. This ensures their involvement as their own businesses are (partly) affected by it.