Note to Instructors: Building a Better Rat Trap

5 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2007

See all articles by Siri A. Terjesen

Siri A. Terjesen

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH); American University


This case examines technological entrepreneurship and human capital in a remote village in southeast India. Sethu Sethunarayanan, director of the nongovernment organization (NGO) Center for Development of Disadvantaged People (CDDP), uses technology to improve the lives of impoverished people, focusing in particular on the indigenous Irula tribe. The Irulas rat catching activities constitute a primary source of income and food. However, the Irulas are often unsuccessful in catching rats and suffer many health problems from mouth-blowing a clay pot filled with smoke. Sethu developed a better rat trap, improving success rates and income and eliminating health hazards. In parallel, CDDP established a factory and self-help, micro-credit collectives to enable other villagers to improve their socioeconomic condition. The case chronicles the project's development, including opportunity recognition, and new technology development and implementation. An overview of the skills and experience of Sethu and the CDDP team, and the national, local, and community context is also provided.

Suggested Citation

Terjesen, Siri A., Note to Instructors: Building a Better Rat Trap. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Vol. 31, No. 6, pp. 965-969, November 2007. Available at SSRN: or

Siri A. Terjesen (Contact Author)

Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) ( email )

Helleveien 30
Bergen, NO-5045

American University ( email )

4400 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20016
United States

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