innovation strategy | social design | non for profit

A local manufacturing system to break the cycle of urban poverty.

By 2020, Mumbai will be the second largest city in the world. It will also have the world's largest slum. This is part of a long-term trend: seeking to escape poverty in rural areas, people are heading to the city. The majority of these immigrants lack formal skills and education, and are not accepted to work in the formal economy. As a result, they are pushed into a volatile grey area: they live in informal shanty towns and work as street vendors, day labourers, and in other unregulated jobs.

Rather than design a product, we redesigned the rules of the game. Spark is a new system with a social enterprise at its heart, which provides rural immigrants with new trade skills for the city. Spark focuses on simplifying emerging technology to design and manufacture needed products within the local community, for their own use.

The Spark Kit contains everything required to make one of Spark's products. Our first case study uses Organic LED lights, a new technology which can easily be screen-printed. Lighting is an important catalyst product which can facilitate better living, learning, and working conditions. The Kit and System are designed to give Spark's local makers reliable technology and a network of professional support, while at the same time the opportunity and flexibility for creativity.

At the core of Spark is the desire to include immigrants in the system, not exclude them from it, and to recognise their agency as individuals who have a valuable contribution to society.

Spark Team

Laura Leddy | Sheroy Katila | Haidin Rashid | John Routledge