While it is true that social-entrepreneurs need to follow the same basic principals as private-enterprise entrepreneurs, they do have unique challenges. Amy Smith of MIT has made a career of overcoming those challenges. In the video link below, she and 3 of her students provide a close up view of their work and the constraints they have to overcome. Past posts dealing with products becoming a commodity, but what happens when a waste stream becomes a valuable resource? How scalable is a product when it takes an entire village to buy one? What well-meaning but erroneous assumptions do we make when working in the third world? Amy Smith has already been featured previously in this weblog as the inspiration behind Reconnecting to MIT Low Technologies High Aims.
If you live in a developing country, chances are you spend a good part of your day engaged in backbreaking, repetitive labor to put food on the table. The MIT students in this Soap Box session have rolled up their sleeves to find simple solutions for the half of the world without access to safe drinking water, electricity, and all the conveniences many take for granted.
Though Amy Smith—who won the $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize in 2000—has displayed an inventive imagination since childhood, it was only after four years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Botswana that she found her true calling. Struck by the fact that "the most needy are often the least empowered to invent solutions to their problems,"
The Edgerton Center provides hands-on educational experiences for MIT undergraduates. Carrying on the legacy of Institute Professor Harold E.Edgerton, the Center creates opportunities for students to engage in challenging activities and projects in engineering and science. Through invention and discovery, they are better able to master concepts too often presented only in theory through lectures and problem sets.