Saturday, July 08, 2006

First Visit to India

Just returned from my first trip to India. Trying to let the impressions percolate... friendly people, lots of rain, lots of work to do. Primary purpose was to visit with potential partner universities for our sustainable enterprise graduate program. Secondary purpose was to do some market research on our cookstove prototype and potential partners for Indian market.
A few impressions/thoughts below:

#1- visiting a small rural village- pretty much everyone interested in alternative energy, microfinance, entrepreneurship. A testament to the hard work of Vinod and Camilla, and evidence that entrepreneurship, microfinance and private enterprise can make an important difference for a village. For more info: and

#2- the incredibly friendly and fun folks at TLC in Nasik. Second generation entrepreneurs... the rising tide. Hungry for success and impact.

#3- the SEWA Bank in Ahmedabad. Inspiring crew!

#4- ran into Amory Lovins of Rocky Mountain Institute on the plane back to Colorado. He had some good ideas on integration of cooking/pots into stove design.

#5- visiting well known business school- very early interest in alternative energy, microfinance, entrepreneurship. I need to think about this. Is this lack of info, or lack of interest, or just the overwhelming "other opportunities" these students face?

#6- the cows. Pretty much everywhere. From prior travel, I expected the crowding, the slums, the one-eared dogs, but not the cows wandering around a city of millions.

#7- did I mention the rain? and that Mumbai, despite having had monsoons for many years, does not deal very well with the rain? Neither do the cows.

#8- despite a huge number of slums and squatters in Mumbai, the city does not seem dangerous, but instead reserved. People are friendly, get about their business, reasonably patient, but crazy drivers. Compared to other megacities I have been (Rio, San Paulo, Manila) the poverty is more mixed in, rather than segregated into neighborhoods.

Enough for now. I was impressed, and expect to return later this year to follow up on the good relationships we started.

EPILOG- The recent bombings on the trains in Mumbai... my thoughts are with the many affected by these tragic events.

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