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 manifests itself in the story of Mansukhbhai Prajapati -The brain behind mitticool-the clay refrigerator.A victim of the tragic 2001 Gujarat earthquake this man rose from the ashes and became a tenacious inventor that helped change the face of rural India
A pioneer of environmental change, he left no stone unturned in his efforts. Exposed to the craft of clay work since childhood he had already developed a knack for the art.But due to his family’s skepticism and constant pressure of generating a monthly income he gave it up and resorted to various other jobs.Having realized that he was a total misfit in everything else he decided to work on his clay work and went on to start his very own clay plate manufacturing company.
In 1990, he got his company registered and soon after received a bulk order for water filters in Nairobi,Kenya where clean water was a central issue of the slum dwellers who were getting sick from drinking water ill fit for consumption. This was the birth of brilliance in the form of ‘Mitticool’
In 2001, when Gujarat suffered the earthquake,Mansukhbhai lost a great deal of his products and donated whatever little was remaining to the earthquake victims of Kutch. Over that period several newspapers covered various aspects of the earthquake but one photo feature covered by the Gujarati daily Sandesh, instantly caught his eye. The caption read ‘Garib ka fridge toot gaya’ (translated as The fridge of the poor has broken).
He soon realised that clean cold water was a luxury very few enjoyed and decided to change that. Mansukhbhai’s motive was to build a refrigerator affordable for the rural masses while also safeguarding the environment.Even though companies today have stopped using CFCs to run them and have resorted to HFCs,damage is still inevitable as it forms a blanket around the ozone of high altitude holding in heat.
He took his initiative forward with the assistance of GIAN(Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network) an incubator for creative rural India.who helped with the designing,positioning and marketing of the brand.They also brought National Institute of Design(Ahmedabad) on board for polishing and conducting test runs.
As the name suggests ‘Mitticool’ is made out of clay. This creation requires no artificial form of energy or electricity.It works solely on the characteristics of clay. Water gets evaporated quickly through the pores. Cooling is caused by evaporation and as some heat energy is utilised during the process of evaporation this energy is taken from the water itself, leading to a further lowering of temperature in the remaining amount of water. Hence the shelf life of fruits and vegetables increases easily by about four or five days which in room temperature would not survive beyond two days. It also preserves the natural taste of the product. Daily essentials such as milk and water can be stored for usage as well.
This genius product was then featured at conferences in various national and international forums such as the Centre for India and Global Business, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, UK in the year 2009. Several companies have also approached GIAN with keen interest to take this product forward as a global phenomenon.
In terms of sales, he has successfully sold one lakh clay tawas, five thousand mitticool refrigerators and five hundred clay cookers. Mansukhbhai proved to the world that man and nature can coexist without causing an imbalance on either end.With the support of ‘Future Group’ and GIAN, his products are now available for sale at Big Baazaars spread across the country and can be bought on their website too. It is priced at Rs 5,000 and has a long life. He received several certificates and The NIF award from our Honorable President Pratibha Patel.
The future of Mitticool will be seen in the form of instant water coolers which require only two to five minutes providing healthy cold water to beat the summer heat. He thrives on support of citizens of his country so go ahead and make this tiny investment and be a supporter of global change.