Less Jugaad, More Real Innovation

[Editor’s Note: The World Bank’s Development Marketplace (DM) is a competitive grants program that surfaces and funds innovative projects with high potential for development impact that are scalable and/or replicable. This is Part 3 of a 3-part series from my guest blogging in Bhopal (early May). Previous episodes here and here.] Sometime last year I was waiting at the …

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Paul Polak, SunPower and good news for poor farmers

Paul Polak is an accomplished man and a very busy man.  After spending a few decades researching and trying out various innovations to lift poor farmers out of poverty, he wrote Out of Poverty in 2008. Making the treadle pump affordable to low income farmers was among his earliest invention. IDE (International Development Enterprises) is possibly …

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Simpa Networks Closes $2 million Series B round

[Update (Apr 8, 2013): Simpa’s CEO Paul Needham wrote back with a few details. ADB joins other investors such as Schneider Electric, DOEN Foundation, Invested Development, Hilti Foundation, Village Capital and some HNI angel investors that either joined this round or participated in earlier rounds.] Bangalore-based Simpa Networks recently closed a $2 million Series B round …

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Poor leap-frogging the rich?

Just read an intriguing Mother Jones article on the adoption of solar power in India’s slums. The two solar startups profiled in the article? Bangalore-based Simpa Networks and Bangalore-based Pollinate Energy. Here’s another interesting nugget – the co-founders of Simpa are two Americans and one Canadian while the co-founders of Pollinate are Australian. Australia vs. …

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SELCO Labs announces sustainable energy challenge

Earlier today, I read a tweet from SELCO’s official account that talked about a sustainability energy challenge launched under the umbrella of SELCO Labs. SELCO Labs, the innovation and incubation arm of SELCO started in April 2009 and is hosted inside the premises of SDM Institute of Technology, Ujire, Karnataka. The most interesting and revealing aspect …

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Social Enterprise Jobs in India – Who’s Hiring?

A few months ago, a 2nd year MBA student from Mumbai (let’s call him “Nikhil”) emailed me asking for advice/leads on the social enterprise sector. Nikhil had some exposure to the social enterprise sector and, when I last met him, was looking at “regular MBA” jobs as well. My immediate response was to send him …

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BOPEEI: Generating off-grid electricity in cloudy and coastal regions

[Editor’s Note: An early blog subscriber and friend clued me onto an energy inclusion social enterprise started by one of her classmates from University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. The entrepreneur is Ashish Gawade and the enterprise is BOPEEI. This blog post is based on my phone conversation with Ashish and related research.] How …

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Katuri’s Question

It’s almost a year since we purchased the Reva as our second car. The borderline-giddy post Hum do humare do…bina exhaust ke on my personal blog records that event. Recently I crossed the 3000km mark and the quick math is that, on average, I drove 10k in the Reva everyday. This is not a lot …

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Why India needs to give more love to off-grid power

The vote garnering slogan for leading political parties in the 1960s and 1970s used to be roti, kapada, makaan (food, clothing, shelter). In the past decade or so, the slogan has been replaced with bijli, sadak, pani (electricity, roads, water). At a felicitation ceremony last year, Nandan Nilekani commented that even the latter slogan is …

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