Low Cost and Value

Several weeks ago while in the exhibition speaking to two museum directors I found myself pulled away by two engaged visitors. Ruth Yoffe, a product/retail/branding designer, and Elisabeth M de Morentin who is a recent graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology overheard my conversation with the two directors and wanted to discuss their insights with me. “Why don’t you list the costs? It is so important for the designers not familiar with this type of design to know how little these cost.” Point well taken, so here are some of the costs: Bamboo Treadle Pump $40 installed, the One Laptop Per Child and AMD Personal Internet Communicator costs less than $200, Ceramic Water Filters $7-12, the Drip Irrigation System starts at $3, IDE Water Storage System $40, Global Village Shelter costs $550, Jaipur Foot $30, Kenya Ceramic Jiko $1, Kinkajou Projector and Library $50, LifeStraw costs approx $3, Mad Housers Hut $500, Q-Drum $38, StarSight $30-50 per unit, MoneyMaker Pumps $35-95, Sugarcane Charcoal price for all materials and ingredients is $36, Solar Aid $19, and the Pot-in-Pot Cooler is $2.

But I don’t think that goes far enough to describe these designs in terms of their low costs or affordability. I was recently in an online discussion with several leaders in this field which will be published in Corporate Knights. Julia Novy-Hildesley, executive director of the Lemelson Foundation, made the point “cost is less important than value, the ability to pay and return on investment. Many very poor people will spend significant money on a productivity-enhancing technology if they believe they can generate a significant return on their investment.”