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Fridge designed for India’s rural poor is really cool

Chotukool’s developers ended up with a product that also made its mark in more affluent markets

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 December, 2015, 10:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 December, 2015, 10:00am

Having a social conscience can open up a range of benefits and opportunities for business – sometimes unexpected ones.

The Chotukool fridge is one of a growing number of examples that are making India a hotbed of social innovation.

Launched in 2010 by Mumbai-based firm Godrej and Boyce, the Chotukool was developed in response to a largely unaddressed problem of food storage for the rural poor in India, a country where 80 per cent of the population have no refrigerator.

Rather than use conventional compressors, engineers adapted low-power, solid-state cooling technology from the computing industry to produce an affordable, functional and attractive solution to a social need.

Godrej worked closely with rural communities, primarily women, to ensure the product met their needs and was fit for purpose.

Yet in designing a product targeting lower-income consumers, the Chotukool has also become a desirable product in more affluent markets. As a result, Godrej has expanded its range of Chotukool products, even offering customisable options to customers able to pay more. The Chotukool became literally and metaphorically “cool”.

The example of the Chotukool shows how having a social conscience and looking to address social needs can drive companies and employees to think differently about products and services, exploring new paths of innovation and opportunity.

Audrey Chia