From the lab to the land : social impact technology dissemination in rural southern India
Author(s)Jue, Diana M
Social impact technology dissemination in rural southern India
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
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Despite their growing popularity, bottom-up, innovation-based development efforts are failing to make a significant social impact at the Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP). Merely inventing widgets for development - like affordable solar lanterns, improved cookstoves, and bicycle-powered machines - is not enough. They must move from the lab to the land, into the hands of the people they are intended to benefit. Innovations in scalable, sustainable models for social impact technology dissemination are desperately needed, lest these technologies be designed in vain. In this thesis, I first discuss previous failures in social impact technology dissemination, beginning with the Appropriate Technology movement and continuing with the efforts of multinational corporations that have tried selling into the BOP. Through field research in southern India, I then analyze the current efforts and experiments of small and medium enterprises. Although there are pockets of relative success in the field, there is no truly outstanding scalable and financially sustainable model for dissemination. There are multiple reasons for this, including the expenses taken on by manufacturers when they attempt to establish and operate their own distribution channels and the lack of technology aggregation, which has the potential to lower dissemination costs. Finally, I describe my experiences co-founding Essmart, a rural distributor of social impact technologies. This effort is based directly on my field research. Essmart's goals are to bridge the gap between global manufacturers of social impact technologies and rural end users. The venture gives rural retail stores access to technologies that improve their customers' lives. Through months of reflective practice, I have come to recognize the importance of building mutually beneficial and mutually dependent relationships with BOP stakeholders. This is one of the most important ways to create and ensure social impact at the Bottom of the Pyramid through innovation.
Thesis (M.C.P.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, 2012.This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.CD-ROM contains PDF of thesis.Cataloged from student submitted PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 84-89).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.