Frugal innovation is the process of developing products, services, and business models that are simple, affordable, and accessible to low-income and underserved communities. It involves creating solutions that meet the basic needs of these communities in a sustainable and efficient way, often using local resources and expertise. As such, frugal innovation can be seen as a type of sustainable innovation. The goal of frugal innovation is to improve the lives of people living in poverty and to create new markets and opportunities for businesses. Examples of frugal innovation include low-cost sanitation systems, basic solar-powered lights, and affordable healthcare or automotive technologies.
Frugal innovation became known to a wider public, when Navi Radjou, Jaideep Prabhu, and Simone Ahuja published their book called Jugaad Innovation in 2012 . In the book, they explore how the frugal mindset has been used in India since decades. Four years later, Navi Radjou and Jaideep Prabhu used the frugal innovation lens to describe similar innovation patterns in industrialized markets like Europe, the US, and Japan. They summarized their insights from this journey in Frugal Innovation , which is subtitled “doing better with less”.