This article was first published in the Financial Chronicle, New Delhi. Written by: Kumar Shankar Roy
Social innovations are not a sure - shot recipe for success but the rewards could outweigh the risks.
Seen in different light, the Indian government’s dream of a $1 billion venture fund to promote social ventures focused on innovations that help the poor, is the ultimate tribute to jugaad, a term that initially denoted simple rustic answers to complex mechanical problems but has come to signify a quick-fix solution to any problem anywhere.
Those who have travelled through rural north India may be familiar with the most ubiquitous of all jugaad, the tractor-cum-truck-cum-minibus powered by a water-pump motor, the four wheels under a simple part-wooden-part metal frame that passes for chassis, body and cabin.
Marketing professor Baba Shiv of Stanford Graduate School of Business sees in jugaad the very Indian inventive approach to managing scarcity. It has fathered many innovations. More often than not, jugaad arose out of one family or one village’s needs. So, commercialisation of a jugaad idea was never considered. Some of those ideas could well have been implemented on a larger scale, for the betterment of a larger group of people. That would have needed the backing of money, often in absence of which promising ideas die.
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