This case won the first prize in the oikos Ashoka Global Case Writing Competition 2009 (Social Entrepreneurship track), organized by oikos Foundation for Economy and Ecology, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland.
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Entrepreneurship/ Social entrepreneurship/ Base of the Pyramid
||Roundbout Outdoor; Playpumps International
The water crisis in the African countries is quite severe
with two out of five people lacking access to improved water supply. The
implication of this problem goes beyond diseases and deaths due to water-related
disease. Particularly in peri-urban and rural areas, women and girls have to
commute long distances (up to 8 kilometers) and spend hours collecting water
from water sources that could be contaminated. In places where people rely on
bore-wells, pumps may break down forcing them to go back to unsafe water
sources. Since, the responsibility of fetching water in Africa is linked to
gender, women and girls spend a disproportionate part of their time hauling
This prevents the girl child from attending
school regularly and women from indulging in other economic
activity or spending more time with their family.
Touched by the hardship faced by these people, Trevor Field
(Field) a UK-born advertising professional who had immigrated to
South Africa, sought to do something to address this problem. In
the late-1980s, he chanced upon a child's roundabout
(merry-go-round) fitted with a pump that could pump water as it
turned. Field worked with the inventor of this roundabout to
bring about improvements in the system and later developed the
PlayPump Water System (PlayPump) that was attached to a
high-capacity storage tank and a tap. The four surfaces of the
storage tank were used as billboards for commercial and public
education/social (such as HIV/AIDS prevention) messages. Revenue
earned from the advertising helped maintain the water systems
for up to a decade.
Field co-founded a for-profit organization with a social
mission, Roundabout Outdoor Pty Ltd. (RO) to install and
maintain these PlayPumps in various parts of Southern Africa.
The funds for installing the PlayPumps were arranged by
PlayPumps International (PI), a non-profit organization also
co-founded by Field. By the end of 2007, more than 1,000
PlayPumps had been installed in four countries in Southern
Experts felt that the PlayPump was a social innovation that was
also sustainable. Field had succeeded in scaling up
installations of the water system across five countries in
Southern Africa by adopting an innovative business model based
on collaboration with individuals, corporations, governments,
foundations, and non-governmental organizations, they said.
However, Field faced a number of challenges in scaling up
further as he aimed to install 4,000 PlayPumps in ten African
countries by 2010.
» To understand the issues and challenges in starting a social
enterprise and managing growth and maturity.
» To understand and explore ways in which a social entrepreneur can build
a sustainable business in developing and emerging markets -- especially with
respect to serving the BoP population -- while addressing some of the most
pressing issues confronting the global community.
» To understand the issues and challenges faced by social entrepreneurs
in sustaining innovation and also in sustaining the enterprise financially;
» To study the reasons for the success of the Roundabout Outdoor (RO) thus
far, and explore ways in which the venture can be scaled up further in Africa
Environmental analysis, Eco-system framework, Developing & Emerging Markets, Base of the Pyramid (BoP) strategies, Concept, scope, traits of social entrepreneurs, Social entrepreneurship ecosystem, Managing birth, growth, and maturity, Business model, Hybrid business models, Business model innovation, Managing Innovation, Sustainability , Double/triple bottom line, Internationalization
Water, Sustainability & Child's Play
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