How do these innovators come up with such great ideas?

I’m constantly amazed by the gaps that Villgro’s incubatees are filling with innovative social enterprises. It is hard enough to identify a need or opportunity in India’s society without feeling overwhelmed or that it is hopeless, let alone design the solution. Where do you begin when there is so much need?  As much as I may grumble about the selfie generation (geez how old do I sound now?!?!), it is encouraging to see first-hand their strong connection to making their world better. Well, some of them anyway… 🙂

Skillveri used research to show that skilled laborers are in high demand but India’s school offerings do not prepare them for vocational careers. There are high unemployment levels among young adults yet these jobs go unfilled. To compount the problem, most of the welding institutes that do exist in India do not provide hands-on practice because the cost of materials is too high. They can’t afford to waste the metal. Individuals are trained in process but not hands-on technique. That has led to low quality work and delays. Skillveri designed a gamification system that simulates the welding process for trainees. It allows them to practice through gaming so they acquire the hands-on skills to be successful in this career. The impact is a reduced cost of training welders while yielding higher results in skills. It also gives them an opportunity to attract more women to the vocational field that has typically been male-dominated.

Bempu has designed a new product to detect hypothermia in newborns. The goal is to be able to identify temperature changes early enough to get them from a rural area to a hospital when needed, as early intervention is their best chance for recovery and it can take a long time to travel to good medical care. They have created a bracelet that acts as a continuous monitoring device when placed on the wrist of the baby for the first four weeks of life, when the newborn is most susceptible to hypothermia. If the baby’s skin gets cold, the device reacts with visual and auditory alerts. The founder of Bempu now has a prototype available with 90 infant care centers evaluating it. The device caught the attention of the Gates Foundation; Melinda Gates has even tweeted about it. Bempu will sell the device across all levels of society to subsidize cost for the poor.

On a lighter note, today is Tamil New Year. Kind of an odd time for it but hey, I’m always happy to celebrate a fresh start. So maybe this sabbatical is kind of my new year. I’ve been changed already by this experience, and with 2+ weeks to go, who knows what I will be like by the end? Don’t worry, I’m sure I will still be mostly my old goofy self, just much better informed about the world and starting to think about my place in it.

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