Innovations in Social Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Biofuel Production: The Case of Tanzanian Outgrowers Cultivating Jatropha for the Global Biofuel Chain

  • Annelies Balkema
  • Henny RomijnEmail author


This chapter focuses on the smallholder outgrower model for Jatropha biofuel cultivation in Tanzania. This model is based on seed production by small farmers who sell to a processing company that presses the bio-oil from the seeds locally, either for the local market or for export. This model has been implemented by a foreign investor in Tanzania; the social business model aims at combining profit making with social and environmental objectives. This chapter describes the trends and developments of this innovative business model in a global cultivation, production and usage chain, exploring the trade-offs between the people, planet, profit objectives (triple P) and how the business model adapts to survive through the different stages of the innovation process. The three stages in the innovation process, also described in learning theories are: (1) learning to be effective, (2) learning to be efficient and (3) learning to expand (up-scaling and diffusion). The observed trend is that in the different stages different roles are played by the company as it aims at shifting from subsidy funds to profit making. In the process of becoming efficient and starting to upscale, it seems harder to ensure the implementation of the social and environmental objectives. Therefore, public actors will have to play a more active role in capacity building and market regulation, and additional funding has to be made available for ensuring the social and environmental benefits. New innovations in governance and new ways of linking actors may be part of the solution.


Innovative business models Jatropha biofuel Outgrower model Social entrepreneurship Sustainable biofuel cultivation Global value chains Tanzania 



The authors wish to thank all those who supported our research: our colleagues in the Netherlands and Tanzania, students, field teams, farmers participating in interviews, companies, NGOs, and sponsors. Our biofuel research at the TU/e School of Innovation Sciences is sponsored by the Responsible Innovation Program of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (


  1. Achten WMJ, Verchot L, Franken YJ, Mathijs E, Singh VP, Aerts R, Muys B (2008) Jatropha bio-diesel production and use. Biomass Bioenergy 32(12):1063–1084CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aldrich H, Ruef M (2006) Organizations evolving. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  3. Amit R, Zott C (2012) Creating value through business model innovation. MIT Sloan Manag Rev 53(3):41–49Google Scholar
  4. Ariza-Montobbio P, Lele S, Kallis G, Martinez-Alier J (2010) The political ecology of Jatropha plantations for biodiesel in Tamil Nadu, India. J Peasant Stud 37(4):875–897CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Austin J, Stevenson H, Wei-Skillen J (2006) Social en commercial entrepreneurship: same, different, or both? Enterp Theory Pract 30(1):1–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Balkema AJ, van Dijk S, Heijnen S, Verbong GPJ, Romijn HA, Huntjens E (2010) An impact assessment methodology for small scale renewable energy projects in developing countries funded under Dutch policies defined to contribute to the Millennium Development Goals. Proceedings from the Berlin conference on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change, Environmental Policy Research Centre (FFU), Berlin, 8–9 Oct 2010, pp 1–11Google Scholar
  7. Batillana J, Leca B, Boxembaum E (2009) Agency and institutions: a review of institutional entrepreneurship. Acad Manag Ann 3:65–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bitzer V, Hamann R (2015) The business of social and environmental innovation. In: Bitzer V, Hamann R, Hall M, Griffin-EL EW (eds) The business of social and environmental innovation. Springer International Publishing, ChamCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Boons F, Lüdeke-Freund F (2013) Business models for sustainable innovation: state-of-the-art and steps towards a research agenda. J Clean Prod 45:9–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bornstein D, Davis S (2010) Social entrepreneurship: what everybody needs to know. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  11. Brittaine R, Lutaladio N (2010) Jatropha: a smallholder bioenergy crop. The potential for pro-poor development. Integrated Crop Management 8–2010, FAO, RomeGoogle Scholar
  12. Broadhurst T (2011) Biofuels and sustainability: a case study from Tanzania. PISCES Working Brief no 3. Accessed 20 Feb 2013
  13. Brozek KO (2009) Exploring the continuum of social and financial returns: when does a nonprofit become a social enterprise? Community Dev Invest Rev 5(2):7–17Google Scholar
  14. Caniëls MCJ, Romijn HA (2008a) Actor networks in strategic niche management: insights from social network theory. Futures 40(7):613–629CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Caniëls MCJ, Romijn HA (2008b) Development of new supply chains: insights from strategic niche management. Learn Organ 15(4):336–353CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cramer J (lead author) (2007) Testing framework for sustainable biomass. Final report from the project group “Sustainable Production of Biomass” (popularly known as the Cramer Committee) of the Netherlands. Accessed 20 Feb 2013
  17. de la Torre Ugarte DG, Hellwinckel CM (2010) The problem is the solution: the role of biofuels in the transition to a regenerative agriculture. In: Mascia PN, Scheffran J, Widholm JM (eds) Biotechnology in agriculture and forestry, vol 66, Plant biotechnology for sustainable production of energy and co-products. Springer, New York, Chapter 14Google Scholar
  18. de Visser I, Hellings BF, Romijn HA (2011) NTA8080 feasibility study for Diligent. Mimeo, EindhovenGoogle Scholar
  19. Douglas H (2010) Divergent orientations of social entrepreneurship organizations. In: Hockerts K, Mair J, Robinson J (eds) Values and opportunities in social entrepreneurship. Palgrave Macmillan, LondonGoogle Scholar
  20. Douthwaite B, Keatinge JDH, Park JR (2001) Why promising technologies fail: the neglected role of user innovation during adoption. Res Policy 30(5):819–836CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Drechsel P, Kunze D, Penning de Vries F (2001) Soil nutrient depletion and population growth in Sub-Saharan Africa: a Malthusian nexus? Popul Environ 22(4):411–423CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. FAO BEFS (2010) Bioenergy and food security; the BEFS analysis for Tanzania. Environmental and Natural Resources Management Working Paper 35, FAO, Rome. Accessed 20 Feb 2013
  23. Garud R, Karnøe P (2001) Path creation as a process of mindful deviation. Dependence and creation. Lawrence Erlbaum, LondonGoogle Scholar
  24. Geels FW (2002) Technological transitions as evolutionary reconfiguration processes: a multi-level perspective and a case-study. Res Policy 1257–1274Google Scholar
  25. Grin J, Rotmans J, Schot J, in collaboration with Geels F, and Loorbach D (2010) Transitions to sustainable development new directions in the study of long term transformative change. Routledge, LondonGoogle Scholar
  26. Gruhn P, Goletti F, Yudelman M (2000) Integrated nutrient management, soil fertility and sustainable agriculture: current issues and future challenge. Food, Agriculture and the Environment Discussion Paper, IFPRI, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  27. Hall M (2015) Against inequality: towards a curriculum for social and environmental innovation. In: Bitzer V, Hamann R, Hall M, Griffin-EL EW (eds) The business of social and environmental innovation. Springer International Publishing, ChamGoogle Scholar
  28. Hargrave TI, Van de Ven AH (2006) A collective action model of institutional innovation. Acad Manag Rev 31(4):864–888CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Heierli U (2008) Market approaches that work for development. How the private sector can contribute to poverty alleviation. Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, Berne. Accessed 20 Feb 2013
  30. Heierli U, Polak P (2000) Poverty alleviation as a business, the market creation approach to development. Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation, Berne. Accessed 20 Feb 2013
  31. Heijnen S (2010) The impact of small scale renewable energy projects in least developed countries, a baseline study. MSc thesis, School of Innovation Sciences, Eindhoven University of Technology (study commissioned by NL Agency, Utrecht)Google Scholar
  32. Hellings BF (2011) Using carbon credits for social entrepreneurship: a case study at Diligent Tanzania Ltd. MSc thesis, School of Innovation Management, Eindhoven University of Technology. Accessed 20 Feb 2013
  33. Hultman NE, Sulle EB, Ramig CW, Sykora-Bodie S (2012) Biofuel investments in Tanzania; policy options for sustainable business models. J Environ Dev 21(3):339–361CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Jongschaap REE, Corré WJ, Bindraban PS, Brandenburg WA (2007) Claims and facts about Jatropha curcas. Global Jatropha curcas evaluation, breeding and propagation programme. Plant Research International BV, Wageningen, and Stichting het Groene Woudt, Laren. Accessed 20 Feb 2013
  35. Korten DC (1980) Community organization and rural development. A learning process approach. Public Administration Review, Sept/Oct issue, pp 480–511Google Scholar
  36. Kuenkel P, Aitken A (2015) Key factors for the successful implementation of stakeholder partnerships: the Case of the African Cashew initiative. In: Bitzer V, Hamann R, Hall M, Griffin-EL EW (eds) The business of social and environmental innovation. Springer International Publishing, ChamGoogle Scholar
  37. Mair J, Schoen O (2007) Successful social entrepreneurial business models in the context of developing economies, an explorative study. Int J Emerg Mark 2(1):54–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. McLachlan M, Hamann R, Sayers V, Kelly C, Drimie S (2015) Fostering innovation for sustainable food security: the Southern Africa Food Lab. In: Bitzer V, Hamann R, Hall M, Griffin-EL EW (eds) The business of social and environmental innovation. Springer International Publishing, ChamGoogle Scholar
  39. Mlingwa G (2009) Farming systems for ethanol—a case of block farming. Paper presented at the UDSM & PISCES workshop held at the Beachcomber hotel, Dar es Salaam, 2009Google Scholar
  40. Moore R (2015) From concord to conflict: a conceptual analysis of a partnership for social innovation. In: Bitzer V, Hamann R, Hall M, Griffin-EL EW (eds) The business of social and environmental innovation. Springer International Publishing, ChamGoogle Scholar
  41. Nilsson W, Bonnici F, Griffin-EL EW (2015) The social innovation lab: an experiment in the pedagogy of institutional work. In: Bitzer V, Hamann R, Hall M, Griffin-EL EW (eds) The business of social and environmental innovation. Springer International Publishing, ChamGoogle Scholar
  42. Njau K, Ndakidemi P (2013) Tanzania Jatropha assessment for NL Agency. Draft fieldwork report v.3, Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology, Mimeo, ArushaGoogle Scholar
  43. Portale E (2012) Socio-economic sustainability of biofuel production in Sub-Saharan Africa: evidence from a Jatropha outgrower model in rural Tanzania. Discussion Paper 2012–01, Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs, Centre for International Development, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. Accessed 20 Feb 2013
  44. Porter ME, Kramer MR (2011) Creating shared value how to reinvent capitalism—and unleash a wave of innovation and growth. Harv Bus Rev 89(1–2):62–77Google Scholar
  45. Romijn HA, Caniëls MCJ (2011) The Jatropha biofuels sector in Tanzania 2005–9: evolution towards sustainability? Res Policy 40(4):618–636CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Romijn HA, Gevaert J (2013) Jatropha: from wonder to whither? Insights from a Tanzanian jatropha venture 2005–2013. In: Blin J, Mouras S, Wadre A, Voron A (eds) 4ème Conférence Biocarburants et Bioénergies: Quel bilan et quelles voies d’avenir pour les biocarburants et les bioénergies en Afrique? 21–23 Nov 2013, OuagadougouGoogle Scholar
  47. Seelos C, Mair J (2009) Hope for sustainable development: how social entrepreneurs make it happen. In: Ziegler R (ed) An introduction to social entrepreneurship: voices, preconditions and contexts. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, pp 228–246Google Scholar
  48. Stubbs W, Cocklin C (2008) Conceptualizing a “Sustainable Business Model”. Org Environ 21(2):103–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sulle E, Nelson F (2009) Biofuels, land access and rural livelihoods in Tanzania. International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), London. ISBN 978-1-84369-749-7Google Scholar
  50. Swilling M, Annecke E (2012) Just transitions. Explorations of sustainability in an unfair world. UNU Press, TokyoGoogle Scholar
  51. van Eijck JAJ, Romijn HA (2008) Prospects for Jatropha biofuels in developing countries: an analysis for Tanzania with strategic niche management. Energy Policy 36(1):311–325CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. van Eijck JAJ, Smeets EWM, Romijn HA, Balkema AJ, Jongschaap RJJ (2010) Jatropha assessment: agronomy, socio-economic issues, and ecology: facts from literature. NL Agency, UtrechtGoogle Scholar
  53. Vermeulen S, Sulle E, Fauveaud S (2009) Biofuels in Africa: growing small-scale opportunities. IIED Briefing, Business Models for Sustainable Development, London. Available through:
  54. Wheeler D, McKague K, Thompson J, Davies R, Medalye J, Prada M (2005) Creating sustainable local enterprise networks. MIT Sloan Manag Rev 47(1):33–39Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sustainable Innovations and TransitionsEindhoven University of TechnologyWaalreThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Technology and Development StudiesSchool of Innovation Sciences, Eindhoven University of TechnologyEindhovenThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations