Rippling: How Social Entrepreneurs Spread Innovation Throughout the World by Beverly Schwartz (Jossey-Bass, 2012) is a collection of stories on international social enterprise efforts. She focuses on the “ripple effect” of small, powerful ideas that work to change social systems in five ways: by restructuring institutional norms, changing market dynamics, using marketing forces to create social value, advancing full citizenship, and cultivating empathy. I’ll highlight two programs in India and Africa described in the book that illustrate how social entrepreneurship makes a difference in the quality of life for thousands of people.
The Center for Rural Development's Rickshaw Bank Project enables rickshaw pullers in India (over 8 million of them) to own the rickshaws they pull, and gain access to loans and insurance guarantees to raise themselves out of poverty. Schwartz states that the project “has three dimensions that mimic the wheels of a cycle rickshaw….technical, financial, and … social.” Technically, the project helped redesign the rickshaws so they are 40 percent lighter and more ergonomic, making them easier to drive and ride. Financially, drivers can now make payments instead of rental fees so they can eventually own their rickshaws and make a better living down the line. Socially, the project has created a “loose association” which the drivers are proud to belong to, and feel like the are doing more than just surviving.
In Nigeria, Schwartz profiles a "toilet entrepreneur” that has created mobile toilets for a population that lacks private or any type of toilet for public usage. She discusses how Isaac Durojaiye created a “holistic vision” of sustainable waste management and is lifting taboos in a culture where toilets are viewed as a luxury. Mr. Durojaiye came up with the idea after developing a security plan for a wedding and realizing they had only two toilets for 10,000 guests! With no availability of portable toilets anywhere in the country, he decided this was a need he could fill, and created 18 makeshift toilets the crowd could use. This was in 1999, when Nigeria had fewer than 500 public toilets (for a population of over 170 million); today, there are more than 5,000 and the government has contracted out 17,000 more to be placed in schools around the country. Issac now feels his next challenge is to create sustainable solutions for 2.6 billion people in developing countries who do not have access to proper sanitation and are suffering from preventable diseases like cholera.
Schwartz goes on to describe over a dozen more efforts that illustrate the impact of small social enterprise initiatives, many of which can be scaled up to help solve more widespread social problems. Rippling can be found in all Foundation Center libraries under call number 733 SCH.
Other books on social enterprise include Driving Social Change: How To Solve the World's Toughest Problems and Citizen You: How Social Entrepreneurs are Changing the World. GrantSpace also offers a Knowledge Base Article on this topic that includes links to videos, podcasts, and other online resources.
Here is a Google Books preview: