Lessons from a soap box factory

The Pakistani businessman's ability to innovate in the face of challenges is inspiring. Resources may be limited but ideas are not.

Bryan Farris January 06, 2011
Here in Pakistan, there is a famous fable about a soap factory.

Several stores in a wealthy country complained that they had ordered soap but had only received empty boxes.

Recognising that they had a problem in their factory, the management thought long and hard to find a solution.

In the end, the company purchased a machine worth a million dollars, and hired an employee to observe the boxing process.

Problem solved.

Soon after, a Pakistani company ran into the same issue.  The management thought long and hard to find a solution.  In the end, the company purchased a big fan and placed it on the factory line.  All the empty boxes simply blew off.

Problem solved.

The lesson?

Pakistan may be impoverished financially, but there are other ways to define wealth.

A Pakistani understands the importance of adapting and making do with what is available.  More importantly, a Pakistani knows how to make the most out of very little.

If social entrepreneurs hope to lower prices to a comparative level, they cannot afford to ignore the lessons that Pakistani companies have to offer.

And for anyone who believes social entrepreneurs are facing too big of a challenge, do not forget that true ingenuity is born out of struggle.
Bryan Farris An Acumen Fund fellow in the class of 2011 who blogs at RisingPyramid.org.Bryan currently works at Ansaar Management Company in Lahore.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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