Building technology for the poor
Posted by evolvingwheel on September 13, 2007
Some students, engineers, and professors from MIT have embarked on a path to bring innovative products to the poor of the world – people living on less than $1 a day. Most of the technological innovations of today are catered toward the rich and wealthy, people who can buy cool cell phones, watch large plasma TVs, and can afford to drive the fastest luxurious cars. That is definitely not going to stop. But what is changing is the perspective. Some of the coolest brains in the field of engineering and tech have congregated to collaborate and develop solutions that could serve the needs of women in sub-Saharan Africa and the kids of rural South Asia.
The outcome of this movement – enough electricity from cow manure to power a flash light, a backpack to hold water, and a drip irrigation system that can grow with the increasing income of the farmer. The biggest takeaway from this movement is the conception and realization of an idea that cheap technological breakthroughs can elevate the lives of people in impoverished communities, which in turn will enable them to be more productive and hence uplift their societies and lifestyles. Read the [article here].
However, there will always be a challenge to sustain this realization due to a lack of solid investor return. Will these inventions and cost of their delivery and implementation always depend on charity, endowments, and government sponsorships? How can a private investment and recuperation model be developed? What process can bring a decent amount of capital to the movement and over a relatively modest timeframe provide profit and/or cost savings both to the community and the government. Currently, poverty and the means to eradicate that poverty burden poor governments considerably. If some degree of commercial profitability could be attached to the innovations directed towards the poor people, then it will relax the burden on governments and enable them to focus more on the organized implementation of these technologies.