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TinyTech Plants: Is Small Beautiful?*

CASE STUDY, ENTREPRENEURSHIP & STARTUPS
ET Cases (GSMC 2014), 12 pages

Case Preview

TinyTech Plants: Is Small Beautiful?

 

At Rajkot, Gujarat, India, on a hot and humid afternoon of April 2014, Veljibhai Desai, the 72-yearold mechanical engineer and law graduate, was conferring with his foreign clients as regards to the technical functioning of the steam engines at one of his factories – “Prayog-Mandir” (Experimental Temple). Since early morning, Veljibhai Desai was with his clients Carlos and Nicole, citizens of Sweden and Italy respectively. They were testing the new steam engine which generated electricity but had few reservations about its functioning. Carlos was interested in using the steam engine for motorbikes, while Nicole intended to use it for generating power in rural Italy. Although, the initial amount for the steam engines was collected in advance from the clients, they wanted to rule out the reservations about the engines. Carlos and Nicole intended to purchase the steam engines from Desai after confirming satisfactory performance of the engines. After a few trials, Desai resolutely conveyed to Carlos and Nicole, “Don’t worry, my friends. If at all my steam engine fails to perform satisfactorily, I will refund the full payment at once.”

All business dealings executed by Desai have always been backed-up by camaraderie, transparency and forthrightness. The splendor of small family-owned enterprises, Desai advocates that if competition is premised on fair terms, none of the bigger organizations can ever compete with small family-owned firms.

Finally, after many deliberations, the steam engines were purchased by Carlos and Nicole from Veljibhai and they also joined the list of satisfied customers................

Teaching Note Preview

TinyTech Plants: Is Small Beautiful?

 

Synopsis

This case study depicts the relevance of Gandhian economic model in present economic turmoil, case essentially highlights the need to decentralize the heavy industries and enhance the endeavors towards social entrepreneurship in India for viable and sustainable economic growth. The case is written in the open case format and lucidly describes the social entrepreneurial journey of a staunch Gandhian, Veljibhai Desai. The case timing is as of April 1st 2014 but the students are stimulated to go beyond the information presented in the case and collect additional information, on social entrepreneurship, Gandhian economic model, Gandhi’s ideology on Industrialization, Appropriate Technology, etc. The case study starts with a dilemma of Veljibhai Desai about promoting the Gandhian idea to the youths; it further outlines the growth and merit of running a smaller enterprise with strong social networks as advocated by Veljibhai Desai. It demonstrates how TinyTech in spite of being smaller firm developed capabilities to develop products, supply chain and in true sense became a local firm exporting to about 109 countries all over the world.

Expected Learning Outcomes

At the end of this case study discussion, students should have:

  • • developed a good apprehend on social entrepreneurship and Gandhian economics
  • • learnt that the social enterprises, to be successful, require the same primary elements as commercial enterprises: an opportunity, an entrepreneur or entrepreneurial team, and resources, interacting in a particular context
  • • apprehend that contrary to commercial entrepreneurship, the social value proposition is at the crux of the social entrepreneurial model
  • • reviewed the learning in terms of major concepts, frameworks, and checklist of questions pertaining to social entrepreneurship and apply the same in the context of comprehending, analyzing, and developing recommendations in a present economic scenario

 

Case Positioning and Setting

This teaching case study is fundamentally designed for a bachelor or master course in entrepreneurship, where social entrepreneurship is included in the program. However this case can also be used for teaching importance of frugal innovations, importance of small scale industries, and Gandhian economics..............

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Product code: ENTP-1-0003, ENTP-1-0003A

Abstract


TinyTech's story is about creating an affordable ecosystem making a difference to the people at the Bottom of the Pyramid applying the Gandhian philosophy. TinyTech Plants was established in 1982 by Veljibhai Desai, a mechanical engineer and a law graduate. The motive behind starting TinyTech was to develop and manufacture affordable rural machineries. Desai a fervent Gandhian, imbibed Gandhian ideology on industrialization in the conduct of his day-to-day business. Today, TinyTech is engaged in manufacture, export and supply of a wide range of affordable agricultural process equipment. Another firm associated with TinyTech is Aadhunik Global Energy, established in 2002, basically engaged in manufacture and development of low-cost renewable energy technologies. The annual turnover of TinyTech in 2013-2014 was ₹4 crore (including the export business of Aadhunik Global Energy).
A strong belief in Gandhian philosophy of industrialization had inspired Desai to promulgate the Gandhian idea of industrialization emphasizing on appropriate technologies. Desai had been sharing his views through publications, speeches and seminars at educational institutions, especially in engineering colleges across the country. Desai soon realized that it is a herculean task to effectively convince young engineering graduates that – small family-owned techno-enterprises can compete and co-exist with large companies.
Desai's conviction about small scale, decentralized rural industries is strong enough; yet he recognizes that his intended thoughts on small industries, rural economy and family-owned organizations, perhaps, needs to be more widely propagated in India so that more and more people can be self-reliant, independent entrepreneurs. While Desai is contemplating on a few options, what are the other options to institutionalize Gandhian philosophy of manufacturing?



Pedagogical Objectives

  • To introduce students with the concepts of social entrepreneurship, Gandhian economics, frugal innovations and advantages of decentralized industries
  • To understand the differences between the traditional entrepreneurial process and the social entrepreneurial process
  • To draw attention towards various challenges faced by social entrepreneur

Case Positioning and Setting
This case study is fundamentally designed for a bachelor or master course in entrepreneurship, where social entrepreneurship is included in the program. However, this case can also be used for teaching importance of frugal innovations, importance of small scale industries, and Gandhian economics.



This Case Pack Includes:
 - Abstract
- Case Study
- Teaching Note (**ONLY for Academicians)


* GSMC 2014, IIM Raipur

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