2020 Health and Social Protection Other

Social entrepreneurship and innovation for transformative change – Empirical studies of sanitation innovation

Suvi Kokko

Social entrepreneurship and innovation are expected to take on a growing role in solving global problems of sustainability. This DDB examines the case of a social entrepreneur in the sanitation sector in Kenya. By studying the dynamics of the multiple actors and levels of context involved, it sheds light on how social entrepreneurship can lead to transformative societal change.

The report was presented during the seminar Att verkligen förändra: lärdomar om deltagande, socialt entreprenörskap och fattigdomsbekämpning i Afrika.

Main findings

  • Diffusions of new ideas of behavior and practice to higher levels to society requires context-specific adaptation, just like in the local market, in order to mobilise ideas.
  • The policy domain may need to shift its focus from understanding the success of social innovation and social entrepreneurship in economic terms, to understand change as the logics and practices of institutions and the deeper structures of society.
  • Multiple approaches are needed to understand the social innovation process that social entrepreneurs engage in. Singular approaches to understand the complex contexts in which social entrepreneurship is enacted and innovation process unfolds provide only partial and narrow answers.
  • Actors involved in solving the sanitation problem may benefit from widening their frames of the sanitation problem. They should actively acknowledging the need to consider the new ideas of sustainable sanitation in terms of developing new forms of social organisation, to create transformative change.
  • Insights gained from this specific empirical case may be useful for social entrepreneurs in other contexts, where radical bottom-up social innovations are increasingly expected to contribute to solving complex problems.

Suvi Kokko defended her dissertation Transforming society through multilevel dynamics – a case of social entrepreneurship in the sanitation sector in May 2019 at the Department of Economics at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). Her primary research interests are issues of entrepreneurship and innovation for sustainable development and societal change.