Facilitating Adoption of a Private Sector Led Open Innovation Approach to Rural Sanitation Marketing in Bangladesh
In rural Bangladesh, the need for wider distribution of accessible, customer-oriented improved sanitation facilities for low-income communities has never been greater. Yet the market for affordable sanitation products in rural Bangladesh is fundamentally characterized by a lack of formal commercial linkages between sanitation entrepreneurs (SE) and commercial lead firms (LF) with scalable, sustainable, and dynamic products and business models. Encouraging LFs to adopt an open innovation approach by developing business models that generate a “living lab” environment represents a promising direction to increase the capacity of SEs to provide improved products and services to low-income consumers in a sustainable manner. Utilizing a Human-Centered Design (HCD) methodology, the Bangladesh SanMark Pilot (BSMP) project (2012–2014) implemented by iDE aimed to develop a living lab outcome for LFs and SEs in Rajshahi District, Bangladesh that was underpinned by business model that would encourage LFs to actively engage with SEs in Bangladesh for the design and development of context-appropriate sanitation products and services. By its conclusion, the project supported the development of an upgradeable latrine product that reached over 28,000 people in 9 months. The positive feedback loop created through this “living lab business model” encouraged the LF to manufacture a mass-producible version of the latrine product from 2015, channeled through a fully commercial business model that formally links SEs to the large-scale marketing and distribution infrastructure of the LF as retailers that is grounded in continual interaction with formerly disconnected SEs and local government institutions.
KeywordsBusiness Model Open Innovation Open Defecation Lead Firm Sanitation Product
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