What happens when people who do not consider themselves to be innovators or makers are empowered to create solutions that improve their lives and community? At MIT’s International Development Innovation Network (IDIN) we are developing approaches to innovation and development that shift the focus from ‘design for’ or ‘design with’ to design by people living in poverty.
We will draw from a series of global case studies to illustrate the impacts of enabling people to become active creators and stewards of affordable, high-impact technologies, rather than just passive recipients or users of technologies. We will discuss the transformational experience of becoming an innovator as well as the process of creating local affordable technologies, including community water testing and treatment systems, human powered agricultural processing machines, medical and assistive devices for improved health, and clean-burning cooking fuels made from waste.
We will also share with you the challenges that these innovators face to ensure the viability and replicability of these gains beyond the “aha” design moment. We will introduce you to numerous sustainability strategies that we are experimenting with, including supporting local innovators and local hubs, developing connections to global networks, democratizing communication, and lowering costs to failure. This approach continues to be iterated, researched and implemented in dozens of communities and at local innovation centers we support in Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Zambia, Nepal, India, Brazil, Sierra Leone, Kenya and Guatemala.
At the end of our session will invite you to put on your design hats to help us crowdsource ideas on what kind of support ecosystem is needed for local innovation to thrive.
This session is part of the GIG programme.