Reflections on Jugaad: A short personal history

By | April 6, 2013

That’s from the beginning of 2007, when we first tried to make Jugaad a reality. A loosely knit collaboration that would span Asia and Africa and America. I gave up on it before the summer of 2007 was over, having moved out of the United States that year. Little did I know that I was never to return to North America, as I find myself in and out of the EU since September 2007.

Now, one wouldn’t be able to touch the word with a flagpole but that is an entirely different story.  Instead there’s a more nuanced understanding of what it takes to make such a project happen – a validated working prototype of a human interaction system. Often, what engineers forget to consider when designing the displays and controls of the man/machine interface is the human being; qualities of empathy not being highly regarded in that particular environment.

In 2007, Jugaad existed momentarily, only long enough to frame and propose Banking the Unbanked in early February to ICICI, using the mobile platform. Of course it was far too early and besides, it was the wrong continent.

It seems its India that’s learning from the African experience in innovating new ways of doing things using just a small phone.  We find ourselves agreeing with Hannes @home that the entire financial services industry will face a tsunami of change, globally, and that Kenya’s MPesa is right now simply a ripple in the water after the drop of one pebble.

It will be 6 years in early May, since I first thought to begin framing the problem in “The mobile as a post industrial platform for socio-economic development and innovation at the bottom of the pyramid and emerging markets.”

You see, I just realized that the title was the sum total of what I was saying back then. Now it seems it has written itself out, all on its own. I’ll take a look at the Mobile Economy 2013 report just released in Barcelona by the GSMA in the next post.

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