The Social Process of Innovation


1. Problem 

Iqbal Quadir was a New York Banker from Bangladesh. Quadir’s upbringing in rural Bangladesh and his experience as a Banker in New York led him to ponder over why poverty persisted in third-world economies yet the knowledge and resources to eliminate it existed. Quadir singled out the low levels of productivity in Bangladesh, particularly among the impoverished communities in rural areas, as a key reason for the persistence of poverty.

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2. Intelligence

Quadir evaluated the role of foreign aid in contributing to the persistence of poverty in less-developed countries like Bangladesh. What Quadir discovered was that aid to third-world economies did not benefit the citizens that would benefit from it the most, those living below the country’s poverty’s line. 

3. Workable Gaps

Because the aid third world countries did not benefit those in poverty that need it the most, Quadir saw the lack of citizen socioeconomic empowerment that the aid and governments fail to avail. Yet, Quadir observed that if he focused on empowering individuals and communities struggling with poverty, then it would be possible to alleviate the same. In particular, Quadir identified improving the people’s productivity as crucial step in the eventual breakup of the cycle of poverty 

4. Solution

Empowering rural communities in Bangladesh called for Quadir to conceptualize a solution that had the benefits of being easily accessible, manipulatable and adoptable by the target demographic. The solution also had to have a modest startup costs and be self-sustaining, that is have low maintenance costs. Quadir noted that by just introducing telephones to the less economically empowered people in Bangladesh, particularly in the rural areas, it was possible to improve their productivity. The connectivity that mobile phones afforded the target demographics would enable them better organize their daily transactions for improved socioeconomic outcomes. By pairing the launch of with the Grameen Bank, a microfinancing bank with an extensive network in rural Bangladesh, Quadir was able to introduce mobile phone use to rural Bangladesh. Further, Quadir’s solution also directly tied the rural, impoverished, agrarian families to an important microfinancing institution, improving the credit and debit facilities that are crucial for socioeconomic productivity.

Part B:

1. Problem:

Climate change continues to cause major concern globally because of the adverse weather events it precipitates. While carbon dioxide (CO2) is a major contributor to the disruption of the global climate, pollution particularly from human generated waste also interferes with the ecosystems that regulate global weather. In particular, drainage basin pollution severely continues to disrupt localized weather patterns in Africa.

2. Intelligence

Across Africa, human encroachment continues to undermine the continent’s river basins. Specifically, increasing human settlements along the major tributaries has resulted in the elimination of vegetation crucial to stabilizing river banks, a problem compounded with the dumping of raw sewer and solid waste directly into the ever shrinking tributaries. Although possessing considerable freshwater resources, access to ready to drink water in Africa remains low. Human encroachment in the form of clearing protective vegetation from riverbanks for agriculture and settlement, and poor waste management pose a direct challenge to the continent’s fresh water reserve.

3. Workable gaps

One community in rural Malawi Legislative and governance priorities do not appear to include ecological preservation and because of this, it was necessary to identify how to best address sensitize the communities along a major tributary on the importance of keeping the river banks pristine. Presently, the community does not have access to the national grid, and relies on few, expensive and emission-emitting diesel generators owned by various businesses and individuals. Equally, the community consists of impoverished farmers and fishermen who rely on firewood for their needs. The area appears to be largely neglected by the government kilometers away, a distance that increases with ethnic discrimination.

4. Solution

The introduction of a carbon-capture power generating micro-plant would address the use of fossil fuel, avail electricity to the community and outlying areas not connected to the national grid, overcome government inertia and ethnic differences. Importantly, the clean power micro-plant would address the disposal of waste into the rivers as the waste generated by the communities will feed the plant. Because the power micro-plant is easy to install, operate and maintain after the initial acquisition and transportation costs, the plant will benefit the community immensely. The resulting availability of cheap electricity will result in working public space lights, and this would enable businesses to stay open longer. Further, the clean power micro-plant will curb pollution along the river banks by absorbing the waste presently being dumped in the river. Partnership with international financiers with local NGOs liaising with participating local governments make the project a viable, cost-effective solution to preserving the major tributary in that impoverished, rural Malawian community. 


TED [TED]. (2007, January 16). Iqbal Quadir: The power of the Mobile phone to End poverty. Retrieved from 

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