Social Startups

Villgro: Powering Rural India through Frugal Innovation

The next big growth opportunity in India is projected to be in rural areas. Over 70% of India’s one billion plus population is living in villages (as per the 2001 census) and presenting huge unmet needs across all areas – education, health care, household goods, etc.

Frugal Innovation is creating smart simple solutions, that are of good quality, effective and affordable, and will help drive sustainable growth among rural India. This segment comprises of people of moderate means who are extremely value conscious by necessity and are willing to spend but only on products and services of great value to them, which provide a maximum bang for their money.

You may have heard of the Tata Nano, a car considered to be the world’s cheapest, priced at only $2000 or Tata’s new initiative to build the world’s cheapest home at only $700 to add to that a startup recently launched the $35 Android Tablet for the Indian market. These are some good examples of Frugal Engineering from India.

Villgro is one organization that has been living, breathing frugal innovation and thinking rural for over a decade now, with a single minded focus on accelerating ventures in this space. Based in Chennai, India, Villgro identifies and nurtures innovations that are transforming the lives of rural India. Since its inception in 2001, Villgro has identified and launched more than 2000 rural innovators. From solutions that increases farmers productivity, to useful household products such as home lighting solutions, water purifier to healthcare products such as band aid and infant warmers. Villgro has left no area unturned in launching ventures that are exclusively geared to meet the needs of rural people. You can learn more about their ventures here.

They are also playing a leadership role in developing India’s social enterprise ecosystem. Dec 2-3, 2011, they are hosting their signature event, ‘Unconvention’ at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Chennai. Unconvention serves as a common meeting ground for people who are interested in serving the Bottom of the Pyramid market and attracts a variety of people and organizations from investors, to entrepreneurs, to domain experts, thought leaders and more.

Filed under: Social Startups


Deepa Chaudhary

I have extensively worked at grass-roots from working in the slums of Mumbai to being on the frontline of numerous disaster relief efforts. I'm passionate about social entrepreneurship and I love discovering and writing about new trends in the social good space.