In­no­va­tions Sum­mary

Southern Innovator - - CONTENTS -

South­ern In­no­va­tor has pro­filed many in­no­va­tions since 2011. Here is a sum­mary of those in­no­va­tions and how to find them in SI’S back is­sues.

cook­ing habits. Cook­ing cul­tures vary greatly across the de­vel­op­ing world so it is im­por­tant to un­der­stand ex­actly who your cus­tomers are and fo­cus on meet­ing their re­quire­ments. When you have a prod­uct that is easy to use, it needs to be de­sir­able as well. Be­yond the ser­vice pro­vided, the prod­uct should make the cus­tomers feel good about them­selves. Fi­nally, the Baker cooks the same food with half the fuel and much less smoke.

The pri­or­i­ties seem re­versed for other cook­stove mod­els on the mar­ket. Ef­fi­ciency comes first, then the aes­thetic de­sign, and cul­tural con­form­ity is last. Hy­per-ef­fi­cient cook­stoves are great for health and the en­vi­ron­ment on pa­per but the ben­e­fits are not re­al­ized be­cause wide­spread adop­tion isn’t achieved. Most prod­ucts are im­posed through a top-down ap­proach in­stead of start­ing with the cus­tomers and de­sign­ing the stove around them.

SI: Why did you choose to have the Baker cook­stove de­signed by Claes­son Koivisto Rune? What were some of the chal­lenges en­coun­tered when de­sign­ing the prod­uct and the pro­duc­tion life cy­cle? What ad­vice do you have for other so­cial en­ter­prises look­ing to of­fer an ap­peal­ing prod­uct to low-in­come house­holds?

We wanted the Baker cook­stove to be an as­pi­ra­tional prod­uct that you use as much be­cause of the per­for­mance (less fuel and less smoke) as be­cause it is beau­ti­ful. Claes­son Koivisto Rune be­lieved in our vi­sion at a very early stage and I doubt we could have got­ten where we are to­day with­out them. Chal­lenges around the de­sign mainly in­volve keep­ing the costs down. Our cus­tomers do not have a lot of dis­pos­able in­come so bal­anc­ing af­ford­abil­ity with per­for­mance and world-class de­sign is tough.

For other en­trepreneurs selling to low-in­come house­holds, my ad­vice is: iden­tify your cus­tomer, lis­ten to them, and never stop lis­ten­ing. This is ob­vi­ous to most busi­nesses but for so­cial en­ter­prises, some­times the grant or­ga­ni­za­tions or other dis­persers of donor fund­ing be­come the cus­tomer with­out your notic­ing.

Fi­nally, of­ten just be­cause the con­sumer is in a de­vel­op­ing coun­try, en­ter­prises ne­glect aes­thetic ap­peal and brand­ing. Do not do this. Your con­sumers be­have for the most part like their coun­ter­parts in the de­vel­oped world. They want prod­ucts that look nice and make them feel good.

SI: What role is in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy play­ing in the Baker cook­stove’s de­vel­op­ment? How do mo­bile phones help with reach­ing cus­tomers in Africa? How does of­fer­ing soft­ware prod­ucts such as Top 3 tracker help Baker cook­stoves?

In­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy has a huge im­pact in de­cen­tral­ized ar­eas be­cause it en­ables the cheap flow of in­for­ma­tion. For Top Third Ven­tures, it al­lows us to track our sales in re­al­time, com­mu­ni­cate with cur­rent and fu­ture cus­tomers in­stantly and gain valu­able in­sights about how to im­prove the sales pitch and mar­ket­ing strat­egy. The Baker cook­stove also de­pends on car­bon fi­nance, which re­quires a di­a­logue with cur­rent cus­tomers to en­sure the us­age of the cook­stove is ac­cu­rately mea­sured. In­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy such as our Top3 Tracker sig­nif­i­cantly re­duces the cost of ac­cess­ing car­bon fi­nance.

SI: It is said that an in­no­va­tor is some­body who disrupts ex­ist­ing prod­ucts and ways of do­ing things. How is Top Third Ven­tures in­no­vat­ing and dis­rupt­ing the cur­rent ap­proach to energy-ef­fi­cient cook­stove dis­tri­bu­tion?

We hope to change the way prod­ucts for low-in­come house­holds are de­signed, mar­keted and sold. Top Third Ven­tures’ Baker cook­stove em­bod­ies our con­vic­tion that these prod­ucts should be cus­tomer-cen­tric, have as­pi­ra­tional value and con­form to lo­cal cul­tures. The suc­cess of our prod­uct will show that con­sumers in the de­vel­op­ing world want the same thing as their coun­ter­parts in de­vel­oped coun­tries.

Top Third is a part­ner of the Global Al­liance for Clean Cook­stoves.

The Baker cook­stove de­signed by Clae­son Koivisto Rune. • bak­er­prod­uct.com • topthird­ven­tures.com • clean­cook­stoves.org

Lu­cas Be­lenky with a Baker cook­stove

painted a dis­tinc­tive or­ange.

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