Social Innovation for the Bottom of the Pyramid

Social Innovation for the Bottom of the Pyramid

The aim of empowering people at the Bottom of the Pyramid is to identify appropriate technical solutions in order to tackle basic needs in developing countries. But what are basic needs exactly?

In 1943, Abraham Maslow presented his well-known “hierarchy of needs”. According to his theory, people need food, water, sleep and warmth the most. These are considered to be basic needs and it is only when these basic physical requirements are met that individuals can progress to the next level, that of safety and security. Once these needs are fulfilled, interpersonal needs such as love and friendship, as well as the need for self-esteem and respect from others, can gain importance. Self-fulfilment and the realization of one’s own potential represent the top of the hierarchy.

What does Maslow tell us? Food, sanitation and shelter are not only mandatory preconditions for survival – they also lay the foundations for the personal development of an individual. People can only grow and develop if they don’t suffer from basic supply problems: Children in school simply cannot learn on an empty stomach and the social and economic development of communities depends on access to safe water and sanitation services.

Today, the basic needs approach has become an integral part of theories about human motivation, social and economic development, particularly in the context of development in low income countries. It has become one of the major approaches to the measurement of what is believed to be an eradicable level of poverty and it also forms the centre of people-focused development strategies. The “basic needs strategy in development planning” by the ILO (1976), for instance, calls for giving priority to meeting minimum human needs, providing certain essential public services, and also stresses the importance of citizen participation in the determination and tackling of needs. Citizen participation, economic growth, globalization and technology are all intertwined in these development approaches.

The definition of basic needs within the framework of empowering people therefore also encompasses food, water, shelter (moladi), sanitation, education and healthcare. The use of technology in concert with social entrepreneurship to improve the quality of life and social structures

Decent quality housing is one of the key factors in the fight against poverty and social exclusion. It is not just about putting a roof over someone’s head. Academic research proves that access to a clean and stable home implicates an improvement in security, health and education. Moladi, a South African based company established in 1986, makes housing accessible to low-income people through innovative and eco-friendly technology.

Moladi combines construction with economic development. With the motto “Train the unemployed to build for the homeless” The company offers training locally for the unemployed thereby creating jobs and empowering the community as a whole. Due to the simplicity of the approach, construction techniques and skills can be transferred in a short time. In this way, the communities benefit from affordable shelter and skilled entrepreneurs (in the area of low-cost housing) at the same time. Moladi’s success in over 20 countries shows that affordable housing is an important key in finding solutions to promoting security and alleviating poverty.

moladi Construction system

moladi Construction System

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One Response to “Social Innovation for the Bottom of the Pyramid”

  1. moladi Says:

    JOBS FOOD SHELTER – Back 2 Basics http://www.designmind.co.za/index.php/news/design/item/540-imagination-for-people-social-innovation-for-the-bottom-of-the-pyramid#.VKukHf0cSCj

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