Born in the Prajapati family, originally belonging to the village Nichimandal of Morbi, Rajkot, Mansukhbhai had exposure to the clay tradition since childhood, as this was his family’s traditional profession. He used to load clay from the ponds and fields on the donkey and ferry it to his place. Other than this, his contribution was limited as he was not much interested in the pottery work.
Having gained a sound knowledge while working in the pottery unit, the desire to start an enterprise of his own started to grow in Mansukhbhais mind. During his childhood, he saw earthen pans/hot plates (locally termed as Kaladi/Tavdi) being manufactured manually on the potters wheel (locally termed as Chhakdo). Using this, one person can only make about 100 units per day. He had seen roof tiles being manufactured in large quantity on hand press, which made him think why cannot earthen pans be made the same way?
In 1988, he left his job and took a loan of Rs 30,000 from a money lender to start his own earthen plate manufacturing factory. He purchased a small piece of land for the factory, dyes and presses, soil mixing machine, electric potters wheel and other scrap objects. Then he modified the roof tile making hand press and developed a hand press machine having capacity to produce 700 earthen pans per day.
In the fateful earthquake of January 2001, Mansukhbhai suffered huge loss, as most of his stock got broken. He distributed the stock that escaped the quake to the quake affected people of Kutch. In February 2001, Sandesh Gujarati Daily had a photo feature on the earthquake where at one place it showed a broken water filter of Mansukhbhai with the caption the broken fridge of poor.
This caption ignited a thought in him to work on a rural fridge that did not need electricity and could be used by masses. Though he started thinking about it after the Gujarat earthquake of 2001, it was 2002 when he actually started his work. Almost the same time, Mansukhbhai came into the contact of Gujarat Grass-roots Innovation Augmentation Network (GIAN), Ahmedabad. After a painstaking journey of three years during which he tested all sorts of soils and fridge designs, he finally came out with Mitticool fridge in 2005. A civil engineer saw the fridge and looking at its applications gave him the order of 100 pieces and an advance of Rs. 2 lakh.
Check Address and Contact Number of Mitticool at http://con.greenecosystem.in/clay-products/mitti-cool-clay-refrigerator-cooker.html
Watch Story of Mansukhabhai Prajapati, covered in leading national news channel, NDTV.