Business Ideas

Jugaad on Indian Streets – Innovative Enterpreneurs

Out on the Indian street it is the enterprising that will improvise and innovate with their businesses. Those of us who have traveled many a mile in Indian milieus, particularly the bazaars will remember voices heard over the noise of people milling about, voices that are particularly energetic, and persuasive, while others not as much.

But whatever the case maybe there is every chance, if you were to look closely, that they’ll have innovated on something or the other, often to cut costs, or to make do with whatever is at their disposal at the time. Jugaad or a quick fix often does the trick.

After all as many of them would say, if a Jugaad does the job then why bother with anything else. Jugaad on the Indian street is a living example of how the enterprising will find a way out themselves to meet their needs.

The juice vendor’s cart that you see in the picture above needed an ice box. With earnings from selling juices largely seasonal not to speak of fierce competition each juice vendor faces, money for an ice box could be put to better use somewhere, so he looked for an alternative.

Improvising with a thermocol box that was used to pack and transport vaccines, he ensured that he had an ice box functioning that served his purpose.

While he used a thermocol box his neighbour, another juice vendor, used a conventional ice box. It was a study in contrasts.

Thermocol is easy to come by, and folks on the street find many uses for it. They experiment, or see precedents and adopt it. A rickshaw driver I recently traveled with pointed to the roof and told me that though the roof has a double layer it gets very hot inside the rickshaw.

“I insert a thermocol sheet between the roof supports and the roof cover, it keeps the inside cool.”

Then he pointed to pieces of thermocol sticking from the roof before continuing, “In a month from now I’ll have the thermocol sheet back to beat the heat.”

Jugaad indicates a need that exists in the market, a need that needs fulfillment, and at a cost that is viable. Before getting off the rickshaw the driver pointed to his seat and said, “I got this from those that car owners use. Sitting on all day I don’t sweat in the seat of the pants. The wooden beads aid circulation, and I remain comfortable.”

He said, “Other rickshaw drivers ask me if the wooden beads don’t hurt me when I sit on them. So I ask them to try and they quite enjoy the experience.”

“Don’t they want to buy something similar?”

“They would if was cheaper,” he replied.

In the simplest form Jugaad takes the form of a hair-band that peanut vendors use as an elastic holder to keep paper cones in place. Unlike conventional rubber bands that concentrate pressure on a narrow strip the width of the rubber band, and crumpling the paper cones, hair-bands improvised as paper cone holders relieve the pressure across a wide strip the width of the hair band.

Walk along further and if you happen upon more vendors, pause like I did.

In front of a basketful of red nozzles, a colour that’s difficult to miss even if you’re walking past quickly, a youth was announcing, “Dus ko ek, dus ko ek.” (One for ten, one for ten).

In one hand he held a used Bisleri water bottle with a red nozzle from the basket fitted to it, with the other he held a nozzle aloft, all the while spraying water from the nozzle. In no time he emptied the plastic water bottle before picking up another.

The sight of a Bisleri water bottle, a brand that people use widely, made passers-by stop by the lad. Unlike in retail store where a water sprayer comes with the nozzle and the container as a single unit, here they only need buy the nozzle and fit it to a used mineral water bottle.

It helped that the street vendor was selling his wares by a flower market, for as I stepped out I ran into a flower vendor who had used the water sprayer the lad was peddling to keep her flowers fresh. Her empty basket indicated fresh looking flowers had found quick buyers. Elsewhere fruit vendors had one of these too, spraying their fruits to keep them looking shiny and fresh.

In the afternoon, retracing my steps I ran into the ‘nozzle’ vendors with stocks nearly sold, while the few nozzles that remained had interested customers.

The plastic nozzle engineered for use with castaway mineral water bottles irrespective of the make will see many a used mineral water bottle now used to water plants, wipe tables, floors, and keep fruits fresh among other things.

But to experience Jugaad at a level of engineering that makes a difference with how you operate your business, you must visit Panchgani to see a lemonade vendor who literally gave his business wheels. One blogger did, and here is an account of his encounter with the enterprising businessman.

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