On the Delivery of Pro-Poor Innovations: Managerial Lessons from Sanitation Activists in India

Shyama V. Ramani, Shuan SadreGhazi & Geert Duysters


There is an emerging body of literature that examines how pro-poor product innovations should be created and what business models should accompany them. However, there is little on actual implementation practises and the present paper attempts to fill this void by analyzing the findings of the literature and confronting them with the actual field practises of sanitation activists in India. It demonstrates that the common thread that unifies progressive sanitation activists is their adoption of a ‘market based approach’. Market failures stemming from the demand side are shown to be due to problems of expressions of demand and their mismatch with perceptions of the value of the innovation. It also identifies how activists go beyond the academic model of assessing need, appropriateness of technology and demand to include practises for ‘accompaniment’, ‘sustainable maintenance’ and ‘generation of knowledge, demand and innovation spillovers’ in an endogenous fashion, providing an alternative to the ‘centralized platform delivery’ model.

Keywords: Pro-Poor Innovation, Sanitation, Delivery, Bottom of the Pyramid, implementation

JEL codes: O310, O330, O320

UNU-MERIT Working Papers ISSN 1871-9872

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