Innovation in Emerging Economies – Frugal Innovation

Innovation in Emerging Economies – Frugal Innovation

In respect to the concept of “making the best possible with the optimization of resources,” came the concept of Frugal Innovations.  This is based on simple procedures to manufacture necessary products or services at a lower profit margin per customer within a broad market.

This model makes more sense in emerging countries now that it is essential to identify the restrictions of cost to manufacture, design and commercialization.  This type of innovation is focused on the generation of simple products, accessibility, low costs, and low effects on the environment.

This implies when forming the products it has unique value and is different from the rest of the market.  Taking into consideration quality, clear functions, easy and simple to use in the hands of the user.

Santiago Arias once indicated, “the answer is simple, not simplicity –don´t confuse brevity with mediocrity” (2016).  Frugal innovation comes from the Indian term Jugaad, literally meaning a hack.  In other words, a creative solution is born from adversity, and are the ones that are not sophisticated or perfect. However, they are also the ones that generate the most value at a lower cost.  “It seems that perfection is attained, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to take away” (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry).

The creative process with this type of innovation is generated in reverse of the conventional form.  When we are usually use to focusing within a niche market, opportunity and progress is generated by a product or service to satisfy the demand.  In frugal innovation however, the first step is to clearly define the costs of managing, the design, and the social value it will bring to the users.  This is considering a profit margin in base of necessity.

This is why success depends on the process of inclusion.  By including the very same costumer and/or potential users of the product or service, it generates a dynamic and collaborative innovation using everyone’s ideas and opinion.


In home system for broilers to cook enlarged chickens. It was designed by Analuz Arévalo Cordón, an Industrial design student at Rafael Landivar University where she will be presenting it at the 2016 Enactus World Cup in Canada. (Source of image. Analuz Arévalo Cordón.)


Inflatable Solar led lamp made for emergency situations. It’s currently used in sectors that lack electrical lighting. For the case of Sudan, children can do their homework with the LUCI lamp.

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