Disruptive Ideas and Social Innovations That Are Changing Our World: Part 1

Addressing current global socio-environmental problems, needs social entrepreneurs to come up with promising ideas and develop disruptive innovations across livelihood creation, better healthcare for masses, education, clean energy, clean drinking water, and such. Sustainable development of the BOP community, and humankind as a whole should drive the economic agenda of the 21st century.

What is a Disruptive Innovation?

“Disruption” describes a process whereby a smaller company with fewer resources is able to successfully challenge established incumbent businesses. — Harvard Business Review (2015)

In the Part 1 of this series on Disruptive Ideas and Social Innovations, we present a quick roundup of a few disruptive social good brands.

1. Addressing the problem of safe commute of 27M physically challenged people in India

Supported by Mphasis Foundation and mentored by Prashant Sankaran from NSRCEL, Kickstart Cabs started in Bangalore, India as a for-profit cab service exclusively for the physically challenged and the elderly to help them commute comfortably and with dignity. Co-founded by Vidya Ramasubban and Srikrish Siva, Kickstart Cabs first started as a hybrid model hand in hand with NGO, Wheels of Change. Charged at INR 800 for a single two-hour trip or a distance of 20 km for the Wheel Chair Ramp Model, Kickstart Cabs now has a healthy influx of over 450 customers, majority of them being repeat customers.

2. Restoring ecological harmony by turning plastic pollution into currency and a livelihood opportunity

Plastic constitutes approximately 90% of all trash floating on the ocean’s surface, with 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile. Social entrepreneurs David Katz and Shaun Frankson started The Plastic Bank (TPB) to turn waste plastic into a currency which addressed two issues — reducing plastic waste in oceans and providing sustainable entrepreneurial opportunities to plastic recyclers. From South America to Africa the Plastic Movement has grown stronger with brands from over 75 countries as their partners in buying Social Plastic for their product packaging.

3. Creating a strong workforce from the deaf yet gifted individuals to grow at par with commercial competitors and providing them with a stable employment

6% of Indian populace is deaf, and the difficulties they face are far too many. What they lack in the auditory sense is compensated by their excellent visual, comprehension and analytical skills, but they find it difficult to adjust to the mainstream occupation. Mirakle Couriers employ an efficient team of over 70 deaf individuals who deliver up to 65,000 shipments in Mumbai efficiently. Superior connectivity through public transport and SMS technology has helped them streamline their chain of operations effectively.

Source: Mirakle Couriers

4. Ensuring the safety of rural women through clean energy, majority of whom die of lung diseases due to indoor air pollution

85% of rural households in India use traditional wood stoves for their daily chores. The smoke that arises from the firewood, accounts to 2.6% of illnesses worldwide (WHO). BioLite cooking stove, the world’s first biomass cooking stove not only reduces carbon footprint but generates electricity in the poorest areas of the world. It produces 2W of power, saves up to $200 annually, creates 94% less smoke and 91% less carbon monoxide than regular cooking stoves.

5. A long-term, sustainable solution that solves the problem of arsenic poisoning due to impure water

Arsenic poisoning is affecting over 200M people in the world and is the largest mass poisoning till date. Drinkwell’s water filter systems provide pure drinking water to BOP communities who have to struggle for this necessity. The franchise model of Drinkwell is empowering people in rural India, Africa, and Bangladesh by providing entrepreneurship opportunities, making drinking water arsenic-free, reducing potable water costs by up to 80% and reducing carbon footprint through their refilling feature.

Social good brands today are off to a trickling start, changing mindsets and inciting positive voluntary impact. What we need is to offer the required support — on an individual and institutional front — to help social entrepreneurs towards expanding their efforts on a larger scale for years to come.