Frugal Innovations lead market-driven solutions that address the deeply-rooted urban challenges surrounding them. Often championed by individual local entrepreneurs in the beginning, they may emerge as social enterprises over time. While the innovators drive the design and delivery of these solutions, their efforts are further empowered by governments or corporations who help accelerate the growth and impact of these solutions through enablers, including policy shifts and financial support.

Key characteristics of Community-Organized

  • Urban challenges solved by community actors without profit-driven motives. The innovators often partner with the government, private sector or development actors, who lend support by kick-starting, co-delivering and scaling the solution.
  • Diagnosis of the issue and solution design rely on the use of community information, with supporting actors using their knowledge to bring in global best practices to augment the solution. User perspectives are gauged at defined intervals to course correct as and when required. Solutions often complement and integrate with existing physical infrastructure and public services. Based on the scale and complexity of a solution, tools such as innovative financing and technology may be deployed.


How to promote this kind of innovations?

  • Spark conversations with community organizations. Invest in setting up mechanisms or platforms to cultivate dialogues with community-based organizations. Embrace their voices to build trust and create alignment with a common vision for the city.

  • Address barriers to sustaining the solution. Identify regulatory, operational and financial barriers in sustaining the solution over the long term. Consider policy changes and diverse financial solutions that can help innovations weather major changes in the external environment (e.g., funding cuts).

  • Drive synergies with government initiatives. Identify common areas of work currently conducted by the government and community-based organizations. Use this knowledge to drive synergies and create complementarities to maximize collaboration and impact.

  • Learn and replicate at a hyperlocal level. Once a Smart Urban Innovation has established a proof of concept, disseminate lessons and facilitate replication by fostering collaborations and networks of community organizations or as a government implemented service.