Published: 30th July 2017
He set up a design thinking studio in a rural village in Maharashtra to help the people solve their problems
This SBI Youth for India Fellow was the runner up in the 3M-CII Young Innovators Challenge
Is design thinking the answer to all of rural India’s problems? Well, not all of them, but it certainly can solve a few. Meet Krishna Thiruvengadam, the runner-up of the 3M-CII Young Innovators Challenge. An SBI Youth for India Fellow, Krishna’s project dHive-Rural Innovation studio which has been set up in Lobhi, Maharashtra, enables rural children and youth to develop appropriate technologies using locally available resources. We asked the 24-year-old about his studio. Excerpts:
How was the project started?
During my college days, I was working with the National Innovation Foundation (NIF) as an intern in the R&D wing where I observed how kids and youth, without any technical knowledge, could come up with simple solutions to complex problems. But they lacked a platform to build their ideas. I also observed that most technology interventions deployed in rural India were not adopted. I realised that a participatory approach was required to design solutions.
How did your interest in design thinking develop?
I am a mechanical engineer by profession and inclined towards innovation. I realised how design thinking could help innovate solutions towards a social impact when I developed a low-cost, off-grid, rice grader machine during the initial days of my fellowship. But design thinking and rural technology development can be sustainable only if the community is involved and co-design is practiced.
Being a vegan and having multiple food allergies, I could eat only once a day for the first three months. Due to this, I faced serious illnesses that I overcame with sheer grit and passion with the help of the local community
How long was your research?
The project was implemented over a 13-month period during my tenure as a Fellow in the SBI Youth for India Fellowship. The initial research and model development took me six months and the project is ongoing.
Have you planned to improve on the current studio?
Yes. With the recognition and grant awarded by 3M, I am planning to improve and expand the project, and establish a micro enterprise model within the village to sell the innovations in the local markets and establish forward linkages to markets all over the country.
Krishna believes that design thinking and rural technology development can be sustainable only if the community is involved
Here's how the studio works:
In stage one, the kids and youth are trained in problem-solving and critical thinking
Stage two consists of a design thinking process where
Step 1: The kids identify key issues in their society and come up with ideas to solve them
Step 2:. They are made to think about the feasibility
Step 3: The kids then build mock working models
Step 4: They build real working prototypes and decide the cost
Step 5: Family and friends give their inputs
Step 6: Iterations are made with the test feedback
Step 7: Through common meetings, the products are demonstrated to the community