There is the perception that innovation always means new in absolute terms but we’ve learned that in a developing community it could be something new in that context. There is also the fact that an innovation may be well known in one place, but virtually unknown in another for lack of dissemination. Even modestly innovative ideas can make an enormous difference as we’ve seen in many developing communities. Our JamiiX system is an example of such a Social Innovation where mobile phones are being used to provide counselling and support to thousands of users accross Southern Africa. There is the rise of mobile payment systems that allows the unbanked to be bankable and provide opportunity for grassroots trading services.
So what lessons did RLabs learn in the area of Social Innovation?
1) Firstly you need your CHAMPION who will drive the idea and the one who would be the glue between the different stakeholders in the Innovation Eco System.
2) Second is a CREATIVE AND INNOVATIVE ENVIRONMENT allowing the opportunity for innovators and social entrepreneurs to space to have a sounding board and develop their ideas into a reality.
3) Creating a localised SOCIAL INNOVATION ECO SYSTEM. RLabs is working with a number of different partners who are critical to the innovative processes and activities in RLabs. Our ECO System have a variety of sectors involved including academia, government, civil society and industry. RLabs facilitate these relationships through the Innovation Incubator with a clear vision to grow sustainable social innovations with a maximum impact.
Using these basic elements has proved to be helpful to RLabs in its journey to develop more Social Innovations to bring about Social Change in Developing Communities.