Monday, October 01, 2007

Preserving Family History as a MicroFranchise

I saw this story on the Business Opportunities blog about a man who has a business video taping interviews with grandparents and producing DVD's for all the family. Ignoring the fact that this could be a great business in the U.S. with the baby boomers approaching retirement, a simplified version of this business could serve as a wonderful microfranchise that would simultaneously preserve oral traditions, culture or even dying languages. I think about the poor spending large sums of money at the time of death/funeral of their elders and the efforts they spend commemorating the dead in many countries. Perhaps this energy can be directed towards paying for video or audio recordings of their elders before they die. The business could recruit multiple interviewers/salesman and process/edit the videos from a central location. The equipment could be very basic.

Has anyone seen an operation like this work in the field? Do you think it would work?


Robert said...

David, good post. This concept was attempted a few years back by HP through their e-inclusion program. The manager was a guy by the name of Anand Tawker, and his project essentially armed micro-entrepreneurs with digital cameras and photo printers, and set them off.

Here's a short description of the project from a news story:

Last week was a busy time for Neelamma and 15 other local women mobile photographers to the Kuppam community. Armed with Photosmart digital cameras, they `covered' dozens of Ganesha `nimarjan' ( immersion) ceremonies, and using the field kits loaned to them by HP, converted the shots into instant colour photos using solar-powered direct photo printers and sold them at Rs 30 a print.

On other days, they routinely cover weddings, baby `naming' ceremonies, bus route inaugurations, accident sites or dead cattle, for insurance companies and the occasional `rowdy sheeter' mug shots for the police... They earn anything from Rs 750 to Rs 2000 a month, and are currently moving from a model where HP supplies all the material and takes away Rs 20 for every print to a more lucrative one where they just lease the camera and buy all the consumables.

The change has come because, the sudden access to doorstep photo services in Kuppam, has created a big enough market for nearby towns to stock digital printer consumables. " We want to move away from the pappad-and-pickle stereotype of employment for rural women,'' says Anand Tawker, Director of HP's emerging market solutions in its e-inclusion programme, who has nurtured this initiative from day one. "We are thrilled that they are so confidently handling technology that may seem disruptive even to hardcore professionals in the metros".

An old story...note that the program went away when Carly Fiorina was deposed from her position as CEO of HP.

Another project using photographs to generate dollars at the BoP is Thamel Dot Com. More on their model here:

Hope this is useful.

Mike Tyler said...

Helpful update from Robert.
We are trying a village photographer microenterprise - using a rechargeable portable photoprinter and digital camera. Initial feedback indicates that a charge to customers of 50 per print (To recover costs,repay equipment loan and generate a reasonable return) may be too high.)

There is good interest in passport photographs.

The family/community video production enterprise concept which David outlines looks interesting and similar. Anyone interested to collaborate with us in a trial in Albania, Kosova or Uganda, where we have partners?

Mike Tyler

Anirban said...


I was associated with the Kuppam Village photographer project. One way to make the program a success is to print the photographs on a bulk photo printer. You could contact me for more details on