Igor Botelho is a rare combination of mindful grace and volcanic creative energy, acting together. He connects calmly and gently with all around him, with genuine interest and an open heart.  But, when talking about innovative solutions or an inclusive future, he talks quickly, passionately and intensely about ideas, initiatives and entrepreneurs he knows from around the world.

I met Igor for the first time in a meeting which brought together many experts, called to discuss, among other topics, how to use social/technological innovation to transform a large region into an example of sustainable prosperity in the next decade. The meeting was organized by a foundation in charge of restoring an extensive area in Brazil. The restoration projects are needed because a large company caused a catastrophe, an industrial accident, which affected many communities, devastating some of them. I have been told that it was the largest such disaster in the history of Americas.

After the meeting, Igor and I spent the next two days visiting the affected area. During this time, we talked a lot with people living and working there. When we were not talking to them, we were envisioning how the region could be transformed in the next ten years, with the introduction of a few simple, innovative solutions – some “frugal innovation”, as I learned.

When I asked him about his vision of a sustainable world, he described a place where everyone has access to organic food, clean water, sanitation, energy and more, through frugal innovation and collaboration, spread through networks. He also believes that this world could be built by young people everywhere, who are desperately seeking a world to belong to. He wants to use his connections and professional experience with “normal” business innovation to promote and disseminate “frugal” innovation, focusing on society’s real problems (such as access to energy, healthy food and water), to build a sustainable world.

I believe that imagining a sustainable world is a critical step to build it. Since those conversations, I have spent many hours looking up examples of frugal innovations that are already changing the lives of many. I have learned that most of these innovations do not come from large corporations or governments, but from the minds of people in need with imagination and purpose.

Have a look to find out about what is going on in this area  and you too will be astounded by this amazing force that inspires entrepreneurs and experts involved in “frugal innovation”.

Imagine what the future would look like if people, communities and cities could solve their social and environmental problems through accessible innovation created and implemented by young (and not so young) people – and you will be probably visualizing a piece of a sustainable future …

How wonderful is that?

Igor Botelho is an entrepreneur working on a variety of fields, such as: business strategy development, project management and creativity and facilitation for sustainability, communication, and innovation processes. To find out more about him, click here.


Note: The term “frugal innovation” is sometimes mixed up with creation of products/solutions from large corporations targeting clients in underdeveloped areas (previously called “the bottom of the pyramid” solutions). From what I have learned so far, frugal innovation is much more than that. It is also about creation of solutions by regular citizens or professionals directly on the field.