This is why the developing world can innovate in ways the developed world can't: they are forced to be creative. The developed world is just spoilt in comparison, and has to innovate in high-end nieche areas instead. The ceramic pan is one of the more recent examples of innovation that started in the developing world and wandered over.
If we can fiy the caste system in research and development, I think we'll see a lot more innovation by bringing the two groups of innovaters together.
Reshared post from +Gideon Rosenblatt
Light as a Service: Solar Lighting Technology Leapfrogging in the Developing World
Some of you will have do doubt already seen this video, which I love because it highlights the beauty of a simple, inexpensive, easy-to-distribute, and sustainable technology for lighting. I rediscovered this video after reading a really interesting piece in the NY Times called "Innovations in Light" by Tina Rosenberg:
The article lays out the disruptive power of various solar lighting technologies, from the simple and dirt-cheap water-filled-bottles in a roof (only good for lighting indoor spaces during daylight hours), to simple rechargeable solar lights that are managed by local social entrepreneurs for a community and run on a "lighting as service" business model.
Just as with cellphones, these new solar lighting technologies have the potential to "leapfrog" over traditional electrical grid-based solutions that require heavy infrastructure that is unlikely to be built in developing economies for some time (if ever).
One of the things that I really like about Rosenberg's article is the focus she rightly puts on getting the business model right. So much of what makes social entrepreneurs, and really any entrepreneurs succeed comes down to getting the right business model; one that fits with the economic ecosystem that surrounds an organization and its solutions for the market. In this case, low upfront cost, minimal infrastructure, low operating costs, simplicity of service, and ease of distribution are all dominating factors in the success of these technologies. In short, their appropriateness is set not just by the technology itself, but by the business model that wraps it.
Great stuff, and really worth a read. The video is 3:28, and just watching that will give you an intuitive feel for one of the technologies that Rosenberg is highlighting here.