Sunday, 30 August 2009

Red Button Design and Maker Faire Africa, a perfect fit?

Before our recent trip to Maker Faire Africa in Ghana a short while ago I was asked to write an introduction to RBD, what we are all about and why we wanted to be at MFA09. My response is below, originally posted over at

"Red Button Design is a UK based not (just) for profit startup which works towards developing products for emerging markets. We are currently working on a water transport, purification and storage device which uses human power to drive the filtration process. Other projects include a sustainable vaccine cooler, and a solar powered irrigation pump. In this regard we are a commercial venture, however our main social aim is to foster the sharing, development and manufacture of locally-sourced ideas and innovation through a network of local manufacturing co-ops.

Initially these co-ops would manufacture our products from ‘kits’ of components which are difficult to source locally in the required quality and quantities. However, longer term we see this network as a way of sharing ideas between distributed co-ops whilst providing access to resources that would be otherwise unavailable. We would offer support to the network, perhaps by providing product development services, access to specialist knowledge or components/materials etc.

We believe that a network of linked manufacturing co-ops could harness the latent talent that exists throughout emerging markets on a small scale with a multitude of local fabrication centres which, by exploiting the network, could each have an impact on a global scale.

An innovation in Ghana could be combined with another from India and developed with support from the US or Europe and the market ready product could then be manufactured wherever local demand existed. If the innovation was a way to protect against maleria, or a safe, low cost solution to lighting (or a drinking water transport, purification and storage device) then the global impact could be huge.

MFA09 for us holds the opportunity to meet people already involved in small scale manufacture, to learn more about their capability and barriers to growth and to learn about how we can best support local talent."

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