Author: Guy Dancause

Frugal innovation is not just about doing more with less.  It is especially about doing better with less and creating simple, affordable and sustainable solutions to problems.  It is ideal for those problems that affect the lives and wellbeing of many people and communities with needs like access to clean water, to healthy food at affordable prices, to reliable energy sources, to better housing and to better health services.

Frugal innovation is a process that starts with involving the end users in creating something that is not just affordable.  It must also be adaptable, accessible and appropriate. Having end users involved in the process from the start also makes the adoption of a solution much easier as there will be less resistance to change.

Frugal innovation has been used to bring solutions to third world problems and is being used by many large companies around the world. It was used to revamp their business model by driving systemic structural and cultural changes from within the organization.

In the process, methods of production, product formulation and product features are reviewed with an eye to simplicity, affordability and sustainability. Consequently “Frugal Innovation” often results in the discovery of new and simpler processes.  In the generation of enhanced customer value, it can also reduce the product’s environmental footprint.


These are all factors that benefit both the end users and the companies. Having adapted their product and decreased their product costs, the can open new market opportunities which in turn increases sales and enhances profits.