It’s green, it’s cheap and it’s cool. It’s MITTICOOL. Meet Mansukhbhai Prajapati of Wankaner Gujarat, present day entrepreneur who relishes the idea of modernizing the knowledge that the craftsmen of this country have so long had. His forefathers were potters and now he is too. Mansukhbhai has developed Mitticool-India’s first terracotta refrigerator that works without electricity.
It all started the day he failed his class 10 examinations. Not the most encouraging start to a career most people would think, but Mansukhbhai was young, determined and knew what he needed. He wanted to do something on his own, not work for someone else. But he had no seed capital. So he worked for a while till a money lender loaned out Rs.30, 000 to him. With the money he went back to his roots, pottery, and set up a small factory that made earthenware griddles (tawas).
He modified a press that helped them make 600 tawas daily (as opposed to 100 a day by hand). Then he cycled from village to village selling them. After this, he experimented with water pots, matkas. He made a filter candle to put inside the matka that would filter water as it cooled. The water filter matkas were apparently so effective that they converted cola into water!
After the 2001 Bhuj earthquake he wanted to make a clay fridge that even poor people without access to electricity could use. So he set off to make it work and soon with a huge investment he came up with the terracotta fridge. It works on the principle of evaporation, just like matkas work, the only difference being that the water is held on top and trickles down the side of the inner container. So the top part works like a matka and stores water while the two bottom chamber work like the refrigerator storage and can store fruit, vegetables and milk.
With the help of Dr Anil Gupta of the Gujarat Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network (GIAN), Ahmedabad, Mansukhbhai launched Mitticool in 2005. Mitticool turned out to be a hit. In 2004 and 2005 he won prizes from the National and State rural development authorities for Mitticool and the non-stick tawa.
Today, Mansukhbhai has come a long way from his own days of penury. He sells a minimum of 50 fridges, 500 filters, 500 pressure cookers and 1,000 griddles in a month. Mitticool has won many national and international awards, notably the one from National Innovation Foundation. Former president APJ Abdul Kalam dubbed this humble potter from Wankaner a “true scientist” and Chief Minister Modi has also handed out praise to him. Recently, National Geographic also awarded him the title of International Eco Hero (2010).
Now he is dreaming of making a Mitticool house — a house that is naturally cooler by 10-15 degrees compared to the outside even without fans!
We hope Mansukhbhai is successful in his next venture!