Co-creating products and services to rural India

In March 2014 a delegation of Finnish entrepreneurs, researchers and experts from NGOs embarked on a co-creation journey to a remote rural area of the northeastern state of Bihar in India to discover local needs, to assess the potential for partnerships, and to convert those partnerships into sustainable businesses.

During ten days the Finnish visitors and total of 200 Indian locals, experts and potential partners worked together in a village of Saurath, the capital of Bihar Patna as well and in New Delhi in four thematical teams: 1) Agriculture, 2) Health, 3) Housing & Sanitation and 4) Culture, Education and Textiles.

The project plans based on the experiences during the Business with Impact -journey were presented in a workshop in Helsinki on May 20th.

“The future growth of India will depend on the way we take the developments to the rural villages,“ said Mr. Aladiyan Manickam, the Ambassador of India to Finland in his opening speech of the event in Helsinki thanking the teams for their valuable work and their visions and plans created during the journey in India.

“We succeeded in this co-creation process to understand future opportunities in rural India. This required that we learnt also about the past and present. The key was to learn from people, who live in the region and from those who are and will be providing products and services for them,” summarizes Riku Mäkelä, Innovation Counsellor from Tekes New Delhi.

A co-creation journey is a process with well-defined activities before, during and after a visit. The idea is to identify together most pressing needs, potential solutions and needed players in local, national and international ecosystems.

Tekes started the co-creation exercise in August 2013 as part of Team Finland Future Watch activities. The Team Finland Future Watch service identifies future business and innovation opportunities for Finnish companies. This helps companies to develop their business operations and to channel their development work.

"Co-creation journey is a starting point to develop solutions combining expertise and capabilities from Finland and locally. The trips enable fast testing of solutions and planning of pilots together with end-users and local experts. Our housing and sanitation team built a Finnish composting toilet solution during their stay in Bihar and currently their Indian partner organization is collecting user experience data. In other thematic areas the planning of pilots and further activities continues in close cooperation with local partners”, tells Aki Koivistoinen from Dazzle Ltd, who is an architect of co-creation process and the project leader of ‘Business with Impact in India’ entity.

Read more

Business with impact co-creation journey  is outlined in a feature article written by Tim Bird.

The  presentations  of each Business with impact team give an overview of the plans for the future.

Photo: Tim Bird

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