Making Village Kids Develop Frugal Technologies using Design Thinking

Enabling rural students of age (15-21) to develop appropriate technologies using the design thinking curriculum and rural makerspace.

Photo of Shreyas Prakash
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name


Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Start-Up (a pilot that has just started operating)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $1k - $10k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 500 - 1,000

Organization type

  • Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector

Secondary Focus Area

  • Rural development

Headquarters location: Country

  • India

Headquarters location: City

Lobhi, Bhandara District, Maharashtra

Location(s) of impact

India: Lobhi, Bhandara District, Maharashtra


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Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

A huge gap prevails in understanding science and applying them in real life. It’s often misconceptualised that only engineers can innovate and provide solutions to technical problems. Owing to the limited monetary and material resources, and their innate observation of the surroundings, rural children and youth tend to solve complex problems with simple ideas, but lack a proper structure and platform to build their ideas. In most of the cases, technical solutions developed with an urban perspective often tends to fail.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

The rural community is devoid of any structure or environment that facilitates innovation, to develop products based on their socio-cultural context. We are adopting a unique design thinking methodology, tailored for rural india which can be easily replicable and deployable anywhere with least costs involved, contrary to the conventional Makerspace labs. Through our pilot runs, we have realised how different segments of the population participate in the development of innovation: The intercourse of the tinkering mindsets of the children, and the production capabilities of women SHGs are used to facilitate innovation. Most of the top-down approaches towards solving these problems fail because of lack of decentralisation. Our approach is completely bottom-up, to make sure that technocrats and designers empower the rural community through open-source technology transfer.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

Through our strong vouching of open-source knowledge transfer, we could function in association with similar grassroots innovation facilities all over India in implementing appropriate technology. In another five years, we could help start and incubate localised tech ventures in villages. Similar to how startups are incubated in cities, we would like to replicate a similar incubation platform for villages. • 3 serial innovators have co-evolved, having won Best Child Awards at Farmer Mela 2016. • Four products designed and developed entirely by kids and the youth (13-21 years old) • 505 units of smokeless chullha have been produced and sold till now by the youth locally in Lobhi and Chikla villages. The student-entrepreneur, having sold it at a profit margin of 100, has earned a revenue of 50500/- till now. • 12 concepts have been ideated and 4 are in prototyping stage.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

Our annual budget is 1.5 lakhs INR, out of which 33% comes from Earned income and 77% has come in the form of grants from S&T Park, Pune and 3M. The model is made more sustainable through youngsters developing innovative products and the local SHGs producing them, creating a nourishing ecosystem. For the three products in the pipeline, over the next four years, we are expecting a total profit of 5,49,900 which would be distributed among the SHGs (80%) of our total revenue, and the remaining (20%) is used for the maintenance of dHive makerspace and other overhead costs.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

The rural community is devoid of a structure that facilitates innovation, to develop products based on their social context. We are adopting a design thinking methodology, tailored for rural india which is easily replicable anywhere with least costs, contrary to the conventional Makerspaces. Through our pilot runs, we have realised how different segments of the population participate in innovative enterprises: The intercourse of children innovating and women SHGs producing it in a larger scale.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

Primo, I was invited for dinner wherein I asked the landlord's kid - "Why do you study science?". This triggered a lot of discussion in the family. This is when I realised the receptiveness of children from the community, and that the community would be more welcoming if the children introduce it. Secundo, while teaching the eighth-grade students of the school the importance of indigenous practises through the usage of cobb in building houses, I was startled by the responsibility instilled through the community participation. I realised that ownership of any new intervention can only happen if the community is involved in it actively. Even while teaching the kids science, I realised that they all understood complicated concepts quite intuitively, and there is a need for unschooling and applying in real life. This led to the development of the rural studio through participatory approach.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

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Attachments (6)


Surface redesign at Lobhi through Open Source Technology Transfer


Making of the smokeless chullha


Group discussions in the classroom using design thinking modules


Making of the pedal based washing machine


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Photo of Mary Hosny

Nice work

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