Monday, March 29, 2010

Boond: Micro-franchising for Achieving Scale in Social Impact

In October 2009, when I was a speaker at the Micro-Finance India Summit, I was truly humbled and awed by the entrepreneurs I met, some fresh out of college, who shared their business plans (ventures in various stages of development) with me. One thing that was common to all was that they took on great risk (financial, social, time investment) with amazing optimism and a can-do attitude. One such entrepreneur is Rustam Sengupta who has founded a for-profit social enterprise "Boond" (which in Sanskrit means a drop). I was captivated by the ambition reflected in the vision & mission: “Reach 1 million individuals with light, clean water and pest control by 2012”. But even more so by the fact that scale was integrated into the strategy and operations from the get-go. "Boond’s mission is to bring development to the poor living in remote areas of India through the specially designed Boond Development Kit. The specially designed kit consist of a Solar lamp, a water filter and a mosquito net and is sold through local villagers with 3/6/9 month financing schemes to make it affordable for the BPL household."
The unique aspect of Boond is its strategy to reach its market - the prepackaged kit is sold through the Boond Officer: Boond has put together a micro-franchising solution: a kit, a reseller and financing.

Boond development kit customers live in remote places that are hard to reach and without proper market infrastructure. So meet Boond Officer Bikash: a native of Manipur who teaches young children in the local school and earns about Rs. 2600 (US$58) a month. He is a talented singer and dancer, immensely passionate about Boond products, and has set a target for selling 30 kits in a month. The village he targets has less than 10% electricity coverage and no running water.

Boond has created a very low-cost solution: with just $20 a financier can empower a villager to deploy the kit.

I believe that the biggest development challenge for India is reaching, enabling and developing the rural market in spite of development in the metros. Boond has created a solution. "In India, nearly 300 million people still live in complete darkness while WHO statistics highlight that a million every year die from water borne diseases. Boond believes that these are the two biggest development challenges we face and can be surmounted by a collective effort of ordinary individuals. Malaria, nearly eradicated from the Western world still kills nearly 300,000 people a year and we believe that this is unacceptable since it’s easily preventable for a low cost. Boond is also trying to change the peoples mindset through its website and campaigns ( and encourages collective action to fight the biggest challenges faced by India today – Light, Clean Water and Pest Control" says Rustam.


Anonymous said...

Hi Neerja, thanks for the post. I think the solution Mr. Rustum Sengupta is offering is quite similar to the one pioneered by Dr. Ashok Gadgil of UC Berkeley. The idea is to use a very low dose (& well controlled) radiation to zap & kill all germs in the water so it becomes potable. If I remember correctly, Dr. Gadgil even received an award from the UN.

I had an opportunity to meet with Dr. Gadgil at UC Berkeley BERC's Renewable Energy / Smart Grid summit earlier this month. One of the hotly debated panels where he and I took part was on making renewable energy affordable and accessible to low income families particularly in the rural areas. Dr. Badruzzaman of Chevron (who hails from Bangladesh) was also in the panel.

During discussions I brought to fore the micro-co-op model (a la microloan models of Dr. Yunus) as a method to make lighting and power needs to families within reach of their economic affordability. I realize the stigma co-op carries in a capitalistic centered society. But as societies in various parts of the world force a Capitalism 2.0, we have no choice but to embrace a conscientious capitalistic model. Which brings up your other post yesterday, Entrepreneurship Social?

I will comment separately on that one!

Dr. MP Divakar

marry said...

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!

Sports Dissertation

Dissertation Writing Help said...

Your blog is really helps for my search and i really like it.. Thanks a lot..:)

Sports Dissertation

SPORTS Dissertation said...

Nice article, i appreciate for putting this together! "This is obviously one great post. Thanks for the valuable information and insights you have so provided here. Keep it up
sports science dissertation ideas