Catalysing Innovation for Social Impact: An academic Practitioners’ Analysis

Event Date & Time

April 26, 2015 – 7:00 PM


Dr Shyama V. Ramani

Event Details


Dr Shyama V. Ramani
Speaker’s Profile & Event Description
Shyama V. Ramani is a Professorial Fellow at UNU-MERIT, United Nations University at Maastricht. Her career has revolved around three core themes: the impact of the national system of innovation on the creation of industrial competence; the use of patent and publications statistics as indicators of competitive position and comparative advantage for investment; and the creation of incentives for cooperation and coordination in developmental projects. Her methodology is varied, ranging from contextual analysis and case studies to the use of game theory for studying strategic problems related to innovation creation. She is currently studying the role of technology and innovation to attain the Millennium Development Goals, and the corporate social responsibility of firms with respect to innovation. Dr. Ramani holds a PhD in economics from Cornell University, USA. After the tsunami of December 2004, she founded in India the non-profit organization ‘Friend in Need’, an action-research unit which aims to improve sanitation coverage in rural India. This was followed in 2012 by the creation of the non-profit – ‘Sti4change’, which applies innovative technologies and practices to improve the lives of communities at the bottom of the income pyramid.

According to the 2011 census data collected by the government of India, of the total 247 million households in India, only 47% have their own toilet facilities and out of the remaining 53%, only 3% have access to public toilets. This leaves about half of the households with no option but to defecate in the open, jeopardizing health and human dignity. On the other hand, 53% of Indian households have a cell phone. Such statistics raise a puzzle. An artefact such as a low cost toilet is associated with a simple technology, whereas a cell phone embodies a much more sophisticated and complex technology. In addition, for rural households, both toilets and mobile phones are akin to innovations, being new products that they never used before. Yet, low-cost toilets have not been adopted in the India as successfully as mobile phones. Why? Is it due to the preferences of the rural Indian population, an absence of an appropriate technology or due to something else in India? I try to answer these questions using my observations as a social entrepreneur. Such an exploration is aimed to lead to a better understanding of the role of social entrepreneurship within a developing country like India to facilitate the creation and adoption of innovations that address an unsatisfied or under-satisfied need, even when the need is not explicitly expressed by the underserved communities.

Participation Fee

30 € for Dinner. IPA members can use coupons if applicable


RESTAURANT India, 20, Rue du Débarcadere, 75017 Paris


Metro: Porte Maillot

Tenue de Ville

RSVP closed as this is a past event.