Entrepreneurship in India #7 : jugaad and miracles

4th Jun 2010
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This is a guest post by Alban Leveau-Vallier of Socialter.The aim of Socialter is to spread the good ideas using social media. As they travel, they spot interesting social entrepreneurs and then they write about them on the blog, make video about them, and spread their word and their good ideas through facebook and twitter. They also offer to advise them on the use of social media."And our nation, though it has no drinking water, electricity, sewage system, public transportation, sense of hygiene, discipline, courtesy, or punctuality, does have entrepreneurs. Thousands and thousands of them." Aravind Adiga The White Tiger.

And maybe it is because of this scarcity that there are so many entrepreneurs in India. As Manuel, a Colombian social entrepreneur, said: "we have many entrepreneurs because we have many necessities". But, one may wonder, there are many other countries who have the same necessities, but they don't have the same spirit of entrepreneurship...

An Indian entrepreneur may answer to this with one word : jugaad. It means "quick fix" in Hindi. It is the ability to solve problems and create innovative products in a poor context. Can you imagine a pedal operated washing machine, peanuts vendors using a hair band to keep paper cones in place, a juice vendor using a thermocol box for vaccines to keep his ice, or making lassi in a washing machine? In North India, jugaad is also the name of a vehicle "made up of a wooden chassis, a locally made engine or a water pump-set attached to the wheels and the steering wheel of a discarded jeep or a truck."

The fathers of such inventions even have networks, like Honey bee and Shristi, designed to help grass root innovators to improve and patent their inventions and turn into successful entrepreneurs.

One can also find Jugaad in social innovation and the nonprofit sector. In Chennai, IITM's Rural Technology and Business Incubator is supporting such achievements: a low cost ATM with biometric identification, made for rural environment with low level of literacy, a remote diagnostic kit, a weather monitoring kit and so on.

The only comparison I was able to make with jugaad, is the Cuban ability to resolver – litterally, to solve. But it means more than only solving a problem. It means solving a problem in a situation in which it should be impossible to solve it – like surviving sixty years in spite of an embargo or fixing an 1950's car without any proper tools ..

In other words, an ability of making miracles.

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