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Selling real estate on the $300 house

'Reverse innovation' is unique way to penetrate emerging markets

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In the Harvard Business Review recently, Vijay Govindarajan and Christian Sarkar put forth the idea of designing and manufacturing a house for $300 in order to more adequately house the poor. What is specifically interesting about the concept is that it is not to be a charity project. It is to be an actual business in an unfortunately large market. Working through Dartmouth College, Enterprise for a Sustainable World, and International Fund for Africa, the team is planning to deploy a solution to India, Haiti and Indonesia, as well as working on an integrated model for Ethiopia. One of the core principles of the work is "reverse innovation." Reverse innovation is any innovation likely to be adopted first in the developing world. And though it may seem counterintuitive (How do developing countries get "innovation" if they don't have financial resources?), there is a lot of merit to the concept. I'm reminded of travels I did in Bulgaria in the '90s. Thou...