Student experiences combining multidisciplinary theory, practice and societal engagement

What is it like to study Frugal Innovation in a multidisciplinary minor program? Read what our Alumni students from the Leiden, Delft, Erasmus universities have to say about there experiences.

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As a young African who is aspiring to be an economics researcher, I am always eager to learn about solutions that can contribute towards sustainable development while offering products and services that are affordable to low-income consumers. Last year, I followed a minor in frugal innovation for global sustainable development where I took courses in design and technology, social entrepreneurship and development studies. Through studying various frugal innovations being implemented globally, one of my key take aways was that most solutions come from the people facing challenges themselves. Furthermore, although frugal innovation seems to be a more obvious solution in developing countries due to the ubiquitous lack of resources, it is also imperative that frugal innovations become more widespread in the developed world if we are serious about sustainability.’’

- Nora Chirikure, Gofrugal Student Alumni 2018-2019, Erasmus University College.

Hey everyone, my name is Dylan Clementia and I am from a small island in the Carribbean called Curacao. I study International Relations and Organizations (political science) at Leiden University in the Hague and as part of my bachelor I decided to enroll for the Frugal Innovation for Sustainable Global Development. For my internship/field assignment was lucky enough to get my first choice project which is working with Ukulima Tech; a social start-up company in Kenya which is trying to combat food insecurity in Nairobi. As a political science student, I mainly used my research skills to study the social impact of their innovation they are promoting to combat the food scarcity - Vertical Gardens. Moreover, I also managed the Social media accounts, focused on marketing, and worked together with my team to help the company grow. I personally enjoyed working with Ukulima Tech because frugal innovation to me means achieving inclusive innovation while taking the environment into account. Therefore, I believe that working with Ukulima Tech gave me a chance to put the theory that I have learned throughout the minor into practice.

- Dylan Clementia, Gofrugal Student Alumni and Ambassador 2019-2020, Leiden University

Student experiences Minor Frugal Innovation for Sustainable Global Development - CFIA - Ukulima Tech - Kenya, Nairobi

Read more about the field assignment with Ukulima Tech here!


My name is Helena Momoko Powis. I am half Japanese, Half British and I study Aerospace engineering at TU Delft. I participated in the minor LDE Frugal innovation for Sustainable Global Development last year and did an internship project at a company called TWIGA. TWIGA is a meteorological company that works to improve the weather data for Sub-saharan Africa. My job was to test a code which predicts diffuse radiation.  I placed sensors in different parts of Kenya and collected my own data to prove that it works effectively and accurately. I chose this internship as I wanted to use my technical background to help in an active project where I felt like my work could contribute to something bigger.

- Momo Powis, Gofrugal Student Alumni and Ambassador 2019-2020, TU Delft

Student experiences minor frugal innovation for sustainable global development - FI4SGD - CFIA - TWIGA & TAHMO

            Read more about the field assignment at TWIGA & TAHMO here!

Hello! I’m Gabie Roldán Waals. I’m a Spanish and Dutch student currently studying Political Science: International Relations and Organisation at Leiden University in the Hague. As part of my BSc I enrolled in the multidisciplinary LDE minor: Frugal Innovation for Sustainable Global Development. Along with the Development, Technical, and Entrepreneurial courses this minor also offers the opportunity for an internship. I, therefore, find this minor a very attractive option for students, like myself, that wish to broaden their horizon both in terms of knowledge and approaches. For my own internship, I worked together with two other students from TU Delft and Erasmus University, on the Solar Soaker Launderette project in Kampala, Uganda. The internship aspect of this minor really offers a hands-on approach to all the theoretical knowledge that you have gathered both through this minor and with your own bachelor. In general, I am very interested in a multitude of global issues such as development, environmental protection, security issues (such as food, nuclear, and cybersecurity), humanitarian aid, and influence of non-state actors in foreign policy. 

- Gabie Waals, Gofrugal Student Alumni and Ambassador 2019-2020, Leiden University

Student experiences Fieldwork Solar Soaker - FI4SGD - CFIA Frugal innovation

            Read more about the Solar Soaker field assignment here!


My name is Thirza Dini Catharina Hol. I am a Dutch student of Mechanical Engineering at Delft University of Technology. I was a part of the Frugal Innovation Life Histories team by the Centre for Frugal Innovation in Africa (CFIA) Kenya Hub. I was one of the research assistants conducting academic research on innovations in resource-constrained settings in healthcare, water, food and energy domains. I was part of a broadly scoped field study to understand how new ‘frugal’ innovations are developed bottom-up, and how frugality drives the product development process and the market creation process. Together with the research team we evaluated the role of frugality in legitimizing the innovation at household, community and societal level.

To me, Frugal product innovation means that more products are produced in a sustainable way, making use of local resources and employment. Focusing on the necessary function and adapt to the needs of the consumer with conservation of the quality. With the outcome that more people in the lower income segment can access these products and services. I learnt a lot during the theoretical and practical courses of the minor and would like to implement this frugal thought in my further study and life. The minor Frugal Innovation for Sustainable Global Development has helped me to get insights in the whole process of creating a frugal product. Due to the courses I was able to get insights what comes along in creating and broadening my scope of designing (frugal) products. Started with creating personas to get to know the users and in an intensive Bootcamp course we created in three days a prototype of a frugal products. Learning a new approach in developing products was an eye opener for me, a whole other perspective was presented to me, design thinking. At last we established a frugal business model for our project which completed the chain of establishing a product and bring it to the market.

I am interested in how enterprises develop in resource-constrained environments, especially in those who have aspects of bottom-up and frugality. The internship was a fascinating experience. Going to the field and see all the frugal bottom up innovations, hear their story and how they faced their various challenges and how they overcame them. Due to this you get a better understanding of the context and learn about locally specific culture.

- Thirza Hol, Gofrugal Student Alumni and Ambassador 2019-2020, TU Delft

Student experiences minor FI4SGD - CFIA - Frugal Innovation - Kenya Hub - Frugal Histories

             Read more about the Frugal Innovation Life Histories field assignment here!

Interested in joining our program?
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