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Business Solutions To Poverty For Under $100

Non-profits are driven to do good and change lives. Non-profits are also learning to think more like businesses. And one market-orientated mantra has become especially important: the customer is king.

You might think you have a life-changing, problem-solving product, but if you don’t have a product customers actually want, it’s going nowhere. It’s why social entrepreneurs are learning to tweak their prototypes by working with people in the developing world.

The WaterWheel, for instance – a simple device developed by Wello – is a 25-gallon drum which transports water along the ground. It removes the physical burden of the traditional method from women who have to carry water pots on their head (and allows them to move twice as much water in half the time).

Author Betsy Teutsch includes the WaterWheel alongside a wide range of other, simple, low-cost business solutions to poverty in her new book, 100 under $100: One Hundred Tools for Empowering Global Women.

Teutsch thinks affordable goods that people want to buy – rather than receive for free – often have a wider, faster take-up among people in the global south. “People like to have choices, not just be issued things,” the author tells me.

Her book highlights inspiring innovations, like solar-powered hearing aids, bicycle-powered phone chargers, rainwater harvesting roofs and an insecticide-infused paint that protects against Chagas disease.