Reverse innovation brings social solutions to developed countries

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Social entrepreneurship often focuses on finding solutions to problems in the developing world. But, as the European Union battles with the ongoing recession and the US experiences rising levels of poverty, social enterprise solutions are increasingly appropriate in advanced industrial countries as well.

Thane Kreiner, executive director of the Centre for Science, Technology, and Society at Santa Clara University, says that reverse innovation could one day “help us fix what’s broken in our own backyard.”

“Some innovations that social entrepreneurs are bringing to the developing world help alleviate conditions of poverty, like lack of access to electricity for lighting. But some of the solutions would be extremely beneficial for us to adopt in the developed world,” he says.

“If you can serve the poor profitably, you can disrupt existing markets.”

Healthcare has great potential for reverse innovation, especially as costs soar ever higher, says Kreiner.

“The kind of learning that we see can inform ways that could really transform delivery of services and goods that right now are quite expensive.”

The US government spends more than any other OECD country on its healthcare system, even though the World Health Organisation has ranked it 37th in performance.

Source: The Guardian (link opens in a new window)

poverty alleviation