Mansukhbhai Prajapati’s Mitticool fridge runs without electricity
Mansukhbhai Prajapati was raised in a family of potters who made a modest living by crafting traditional cookware and other common items from the local clay in Gujarat. Mansukhbhai not only continued the family tradition, but he took the business into a new height, for which his name was featured in Forbes’ Top 7 Rural Entrepreneurs list in August 2010.
His family had to migrate to Wankaner after the breakdown of Machhu dam in 1979. There, Prajapati had to pick up odd jobs. He joined Jagdamba Potteries as a trainee in 1985. As he picked up the tricks of the trade, a business idea sparked in his mind. He decided to start an earthen plate manufacturing factory by deploying a tile press rather than the traditional potter’s wheel. Mansukhbhai Prajapati quit his job and borrowed 30,000 from a moneylender and bought a small piece of land to set up a workshop at Wankaner. His business got the turning point when Chiragbhai Patel, a businessman came looking for a vendor who could supply clay water filters. Prajapati impressed him with an innovative terracotta filter with a ceramic candle and bagged a 500 piece order worth Rs 1 lakh. But, Gujarat earthquake of 2001 has blown a major setback to his business. A Gujarati daily featured Prajapati’s broken clay water filter with the caption, ‘the poor man’s broken fridge’. The caption sparked another idea in the innovative mind of Mansukhbhai Prajapati – to develop a clay fridge that would run without electricity.
Prajapati finally came out with the Mitticool fridge in 2005, after three years of testing soils and fridge designs with the help of family members. Priced at Rs 2,500-3,500, Mitticool fridge cools the water by almost 10 degrees and keeps perishable items like milk, fruits and vegetables, fresh for four to five days. In 2006, Anil K Gupta, professor at IIM Ahmedabad and vice-chairman of National Innovation Foundation gave Rs 2 lakh to Prajapati, which helped him to repay debts. Mansukhbhai Prajapati registered his firm as Mitticool Clay Creations. Mitticool now manufactures fridge, pressure cookers, non-stick pan, food plate, water filter etc.
I’m proud that this has helped revive the art of making clay utensils. Today, at least 500 potters in Gujarat are in the business, says Mansukhbhai Prajapati.
By 2010, Prajapati supplied his products across India and also received orders from 41 countries. Mansukhbhai Prajapati has won several national awards and his company, Mitticool Clay Creations has won recognition across the globe. Very soon we can hope to see a ‘Mitti Cool home’, where lighting and cooling will be completely natural and without electricity. Former president APJ Abdul Kalam named Mansukhbhai Prajapati a ‘true scientist’, for his amazing inventions.