11/04/2013 12:49 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Nuts About Oil: Rural Enterprise in Myanmar

Proximity Designs

U San Lwin has been milling peanut oil for 55 years, iterating everyday to ensure the best possible quality.

As his assistant drives a cow around a large mortar, 75-year-old U San Lwin scrapes peanuts into the bowl where they're grinded into cake and drained for oil.

The process takes one and a half hours per batch, which is 16 kg of peanuts. For U San Lwin, that's $12.25 per batch -- a significant amount in a country where the average salary is less than $2 a day. And when he's not using his machine, the farmer rents it out to other villagers and collects rental fees.

Little by little, U San Lwin modifies his machine to produce more in quantity and quality: Adopting better quality wood, carving it for smoother consistency and changing the shape of his grinding pole and bowl are just a few design tricks up his sleeve.

Now that's entrepreneurial spirit. It's innovative people like U San Lwin who inspire us -- rural entrepreneurs being inventive with the little that they have.

And it's people like U San Lwin who continue to fuel our drive to offer well-designed products and services that help solve our customers' everyday problems, so that they can boost their incomes and reduce daily drudgery.


With a little capital and a lot of empathy, you can help human-centered design and innovation happen in rural Myanmar, for people who need it most. Join us here

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