"When we meet real tragedy in life, we can react in two ways - either by losing hope and falling into self-destructive habits, or by using the challenge to find our inner strength" -The Dalai Lama. This quote is the real story of a man who raised from the ashes of Gujarat India earthquake and changed the lives of rural India. MittiCool a grassroot innovation from a small town is unleashing its potential and tapping the global platform with its sustainable , ecofriendly clay products. It is reviving the lives of masses with its ingenious innovative products like MittiCool fridge made with clay and many other innovations to its credentials. The products with zero impact on environment at each stage from production to disposition is leaving its mark in creating a sustainable living for all through its economical ecofriendly innovative clay products .
Radhika K R
Goa Institute of Management
When there are people dying due to poverty and lack of food, the storage and preservation of food becomes very important. Further, the hinterlands of India where electricity is still erratic, it becomes difficult for the poor to afford a fridge and maintain it. In such times of distress, here comes a ray of silver lining from the hot hinterland of Wakaner, Gujarat Manusukhbhai Prajapathi a 2001 earthquake hit small potter who developed a cool Indian innovation ‘MittiCool’ famously known as ‘Poor Man’s Refrigerator’ that runs on water without electricity.
“The cost of a regular refrigerator is not the only concern for the poor as it comes with additional cost of electricity charges. My MittiCool is very cheaper compared to a regular fridge and completely zero maintenance cost of electricity, when electricity is still a luxury in most Indian villages. Thus, makes it very affordable to the poor” says Prajapathi.
The small natural refrigerator uses the science of porosity and water evaporation and keeps food, milk, vegetables and fruits fresh in a natural and healthier way for days at a very minimal burden on the pockets of poor man and zero cost to Mother Nature. The fridge has two layers and water is poured between the layers. This process takes away the heat inside and leaves the chambers cool. The fridge is cooled naturally. The same water can also be used for drinking. The fridge was tested at Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Chaswad Bharuch by Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network (GIAN) Gujarat India. The results were impressive and the temperature inside was 4-50 C lower compared to room temperature. Further the shelf life of vegetables and greens was in the range of 5 – 7 as against 1 or 2 days at room temperature. The price of the MittiCool fridge is very low compared to a regular electric fridge. GIAN facilitated few improvements in the design and MittiCool was featured in various conferences and platforms worldwide. The MittiCool design is patented with National Innovation Foundation
This success and ingenuity of Mansukhbhai led him to develop a line of innovative kitchen products like non-stick clay tawa, clay cooker with whistle, clay water filter etc. The non-stick tava invented by him is a result of his wife’s demand to get a non-stick tava (pan type utensil to make Indian roti or dosa) from market. He noticed the cost of a regular Teflon coated tava was 200, it did not retain the natural taste of the food and within a short time Teflon coating wearied off. Through his relentless efforts and trials for a year, he succeeded in developing a non-stick coating earthen tava using Azo Noble. His earthen non-stick tava uses less oil and also preserves the natural aroma and taste of the food with lots of health benefits. The product is also cheaper compared to regular non-stick tava available in the market and the coating stays for long. The product is successfully tested and approved at Institute of Chemical Technology. Mumbai.
Mansukhbhai Prajapathi has many laurels and credentials for his innovations. He has been listed in the Forbes magazine as the ‘Most Powerful Rural Entrepreneur’ in 2010, featured in Discovery Channel, received Villgro Grassroots Innovator Award at IIT Madras in 2011, Innovator award at National Innovation Foundation (NIF), Speaker at TED Talent Search, Speaker at TEDX, Speaker at INK Talks, Indian Institute of Management and premier institutions, covered by 'Your Story" as a rural entrepreneur , featured in NDTV, Times Now, Mitticool was studied by the premier Harvard Business School as a case study, mentioned as ‘True Scientist’ and received National Award by President of India in 2009, Mitticool was a part of success stories in United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTD) with theme, " New Innovation approaches to support the implementation of the sustainable development goals" in 2017 and many more awards to his crown of success.
MittiCool story is an incredible successful tale of grassroots innovation in India. Not resting on his laurels, his zest for innovation in making a cool and green Earth constantly push him at work to realize higher dreams. A man on innovation mission, Mansukhbhai is constantly exploring opportunities to innovative and improve peoples’ lives. He is continuously improvising on his products, like making ‘Minute MittiCool’ that will cool the water within 2 to 5 minutes. His current ongoing project is ‘MittiCool Home’ having natural light, cooling and energy. This inspired and tenacious innovator has constantly kept pulling ideas out of mud whenever the ground beneath his feet has shook and making him a true inspiration for the youth.
MittiCool - Poorman's Fridge
Cooking in an earthen pot is an old age tradition in India. Earthenware has tremendous health benefits. The mineral composition and porosity of clay keeps the food fresh and retains the flavor of the food we consume. With time and modernization, we moved to stainless steel and bone china. Earthenware pots are now antique products and are used as decorative purpose. But a small-town person Mansukh Bhai Prajapati has a vision. He has a goal to bring back the tradition of earthenware. Mitticool is his initiative and with such initiative he wants to provide good health to the people without causing any harm to our environment. Such initiatives also encourage and support the potter community who ditched their pottery skills in this modern world.
Who can imagine a worker at a small tea stall, today is a successful entrepreneur featured in Forbes Magazine with list of innovations to his credentials? In the aspiration of fulfilling his dream of creating a space for the skills and knowledge that the craftsmen of India carried, he ditched his work at tea stall and with sheer grit and determination to venture into business and change people’s lives with clay.
Mr. Mansukhbhai Prajapati coming from potter community always appreciated the benefits of clay. While growing up he could sense that people have switched to steel and bone china products. Earthenware products are now rarely found. To make a livelihood potter community left pottery skill and engaged in new businesses. Mansukhbhai’s father himself worked in metal factory and never wanted his son to make earthenware as it requires lot of efforts and nobody will value those products in these modern times. Mansukhbhai started working in a tea-stall but he always dreamt of recuperating the lost tradition of using clay products in cooking and other household activities.
He decided to take the family profession of pottery but had no capital to start something of his own. A money-lender of Surendranagar (Gujarat) lent him Rs. 30,000. He convinced his parents and with this amount he could set up his factory and made earthenware griddles (Tawas). He is an innovator and so he modified press that produced 600 griddles per day as compared to 100 per day by hand. He then travelled across villages to sell his products. He also invented water filter pots and other clay products.
The business was growing until the earthquake shook Bhuj in year 2001and destroyed all the inventory. The local newspaper depicting a clay water bottle printed “Poor peoples’ fridge is broken” (in Hindi- “Garibo ka fridge toota”) along with pictures of broken earthen pots. Man like Mansukhbhai was not demotivated. The headline inspired him to invent a natural clay fridge with no electricity. He realized that a cool drinking water is still a luxury for poor and determined to innovate something and make the luxury of owning a fridge affordable to the poor. Dr. Anil Gupta of the Gujarat Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network (GIAN), Ahmedabad, funded Mansukhbhai to prepare one hundred fridges. In 2005, Mitticool fridge was launched. This fridge gained popularity. It keeps food and vegetables fresh and cool. Mansukhbhai didn’t stop and introduced non-stick griddles and many more kitchen durables.
MittiCool is marking its incredible impact on several aspects of business, society and environment. The impact is boundless, to name few it is playing an influential role in reviving of the pottery culture, tradition and heritage, connecting people back to roots in better healthier ways, promoting sustainable consumption, economically empowering the indigent community, working towards green and cool earth, economic development and employment generation and finally working towards rural women upliftment and making them financially independent.
“We employ women and provide them employment. Women are the backbone of our society. Rural women work wonders when provided with opportunities. We don’t ask them to work from 9 to 5 at our premise. Women are given light work, like painting and designs on the clay products. The work is sent to their homes and they do at their convenience. They take care of family and kids and also earn in the same time. So, it’s well balanced for them and also helps us in our business” says Prajapathiji
There are 17 UN SDG’s that are interconnected, but working and focusing on one goal will certainly improve others. 5 out of 17 SDGs are focused by MittiCool and they are, ‘good health and well-being’, ‘gender equality’, ‘affordable and clean energy’, ‘sustainable cities and communities’ and ‘responsible consumption and production’. Out of these 6 SDGs, ‘affordable and clean energy’ and ‘responsible consumption and production’ is considered more important by MittiCool.
The MittiCool fridge was a ground breaking innovation for the company. Though other products like non-stick tava, pots, earthen utensils were doing good, the refrigerator was a game changer in the business. MittiCool was featured in many exhibitions and conferences globally like Center for India nd Global Business, University of Cambridge UK, Judge Business School and has received huge response. Companies like Bosch and Siemens Hausgerate (BSH), one of the world’s top home appliance companies from Germany have expressed their interest in MittiCool. Till today more than 5000 MittiCool are sold and are gaining popularity not just rural markets but also a huge demand from urban consumers. Other products of the company are equally popular and more than 300 types of products are designed and manufactured in the factory. MittiCool company has collaborated with retail giant Future group and their products are sold at several Big Bazaar branches across the country. More than 100 MittiCool dealers and showrooms are widely spread across the country and Website (www.mitticool.com) created with the help of GIAN is also gaining popularity in terms of revenue generation. The innovative, economic and ecofriendly products of MittiCool have helped the company in expanding its operations and creating a demand in domestic and overseas markets. The company’s revenue for the fiscal year 2020 was 50 million (revenue for the year was comparatively less due to COVID-19 Pandemic) and its CAGR of 20 % for past three years depicts its profitability and swiftness in growth. The company believes that, “Business is done to earn profits through sustainable innovation and inclusion”
The man with fire in his belly is upholding the skill and incredibly working towards upliftment of potter community by connecting people back to the culture, in times when the clay pottery heritage is becoming silent and losing out from people’s lives. MittiCool by weaving the threads between people’s ecofriendly consumption and the splendid skills of the artisans is reviving and supporting the potters, rural women and marginalized communities in the society. MittiCool has provided its proud invention Tava making machines to more than 10,000 Kumhars (potter community in India) and has helped them to be establish business and be empowered and independent. This has led to resurgence of the pottery culture in modern times and improving the lives of the people. The company employs 100 rural women in the age bracket of 18 to 60 and provides them employment opportunity to be financially independent. Light work is given to women and heavy machinery and lifting work is taken care by 10 male workers. This ingenious innovator by creating magic with clay is highly devoted to improve people’s lives economically and help them reap benefits by going back to roots for a healthier lifestyle. Mitticool believes and work towards ‘women empowerment’, “Vocal for Local” and supports “Make in India” initiative.
In the words of Mansukhbhai “While I was small have seen my grandmother suffering from acute back pain due to lifting of heavy utensils at work. So, its my determination to provide women less risky and light work. We at MittiCool never allow women to lift any material which is more than 5 Kg. Their health is important for us.”
The company also provides part time earning opportunity for college going students above 18 years and small children mothers. The colorful design painting of the products is done by them at their homes at free time and in return are paid competitive wage and work towards upliftment of people from poverty. This is an opportunity for those women who can’t go out to work due to family commitments. They take of the family and also earn with home assignments of MittiCool. Providing such employment opportunities at grassroot levels for women is one of the key aspirations for societal development of MittiCool.
Artisans and women testify the efforts of Mansukh bhai in helping them multiply their income, social standing and help them setup business. The endeavors of MittiCool is promoting employment opportunities in hinterlands of India, uplifting social standing of women by making them financially independent and nurturing entrepreneurship at grassroot level.
Healthy individuals make a healthy society and a healthy society is wealth of a nation. MittiCool in pursuit of building healthy individuals is offering an entire range of earthen products for daily consumption. Due to the porosity of the clay products the food cooked in these utensils undergoes a slow process ensures proper cooking with a synchronization of heat and moisture and adding nutrition and extra taste to the food. Clay utensils have properties of alkaline and by mixing with the food it neutralizes the pH balance and ensures healthy and delicious food. Clay having a natural non-sticky nature, it minimizes the use of oil in cooking. As clay is a having a property of being bad conductor of heat, it retains the heat inside and cooking is done at a considerably low temperature and leads to energy saving.
“Best eco-friendly products to save the environment. Our products do not harm the environment whether in their production, use or disposal. Clay products are 100% Safe and environment-friendly” is the orientation of MittiCool. Despite being low cost, low maintenance the MittiCool products saves environment. It’s all from earth and all back to Earth at MittiCool. Zero wastage and zero impact on environment at all stages from production to disposal is maintained. The product consists of only clay and saw dust (collected from carpenter site, which is kept as a waste residual).
The company in its website endorses its environmental concern and its contribution as, “We use many resources from our mother Earth since centuries. It’s the time to pay back, to save the mother Earth. Let’s join our hands for promoting the better environment, the better tomorrow for the upcoming generations” MittiCool is an inspiration to the businesses. Mansukh Bhai Prajapathi, a tenth standard fail man by his sustainable business practices of upholding the heritage, culture, environment, people’s lives, is leaving his mark in international business community by teaching the world, a sustainable, inclusive and profitable way of doing business.
Mansukhbhai Raghavjibhai Prajapathi, Founder
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Wankaner, Gujarat, IN
Business Website: https://www.mitticool.com
Year Founded: 1990
Number of Employees: 51 to 200
In the times when world is heading towards modernization with wide spread plastic culture, Mitticool (‘mitti’ in Hindi means clay) marked a way towards eco-friendly clay products. This innovatory incredible green revolutionary clay products provide ways for conserving energy while providing economic independence and molding lives of indigent communities. Started with a passion to conserve pottery heritage, today Mitti Cool has globally stretched its wings to spread the clay culture and working towards sustainable and green earth. With its key facet of “All from Earth & All to Earth” with zero waste and zero damage on environment, Mitti Cool is breaking the ground with its ingenious inventions and teaching the world a sustainable and most economical way of living. Mitti Cool, is an attempt towards connecting mankind more irrevocably with clay and soil.