Monthly Archives: October 2012

Technology Sea Changes: Re:Char and Kiva Zip

October 7, 2012
Technology Sea Changes: Re:Char and Kiva Zip

Product design is all the rage in poverty alleviation, and has been for the past few years.  By applying the principles of lean manufacturing and waste minimization to the challenge of designing products for people living on less than a dollar a day, we can now create stripped-down products at a fraction of the cost.  But product design is only one small component of the process.  The two other challenges in bringing these products to market – financing and distribution – are just as critical to solve. There are plenty of companies and organizations that are trying to develop great products at a very low cost.  Cookstove companies are racing to the bottom, trying to engineer alternatives to inefficient clay stoves at the lowest possible price.  The Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory at Colorado State University partnered with Envirofit, a manufacturer of clean cookstoves, to design the most efficient-burning stove possible.  Dozens of solar companies offer lanterns, water heaters, radios, and mobile phone charging stations.  These off-grid energy products provide an energy source to the billions of people living without access to electricity.  In just about every industry, from sanitation to transportation, companies are redefining low-cost manufacturing. Unfortunately, building...

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