But to generate growth in emerging economies, which have fewer resources, GE is learning to think small.
Recently, the global manufacturing giant (2010 revenues: $149 billion) gave its imprimatur to the Sunspring, a small, solar-powered, water purification machine that serves the global poor, costs just $25,000 and was invented by a self-taught engineer who owns a small business in small-town Colorado.
Interestingly, it was not just the business of GE that made the connection to Jack Barker, the 48-year-0ld inventor of the Sunspring, but the GE Foundation, which last year asked him to help with disaster relief in Haiti. It’s an example of how the company’s charitable endeavors can have an unexpected payback.
Bob Corcoran, who runs GE Foundation, told me the other day that its work has exposed GE to “different thinking about how we can adapt our technology and our products for an increasingly important market,” namely places in the global south that lack clean water and reliable electric power. [click to continue…]