1.1 Introduction

How to adopt the right mindset and increase your chances of success as you plan for your inclusive innovation journey

In recent years, inclusive innovation has emerged as a valuable approach in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for developing market-led solutions to the challenges faced by underserved communities, including those living at the Base of the Pyramid (BoP).

Inclusive innovation differs from other innovation processes as it includes these communities in the design early on and embeds inclusive business principles as a priority from the get-go. This approach can lead to highly unexpected and effective solutions that get adopted more rapidly by the target beneficiaries since they took an inherent part in the design process.

Nonetheless, many entrepreneurs will agree that this is easier said than done. Inclusive innovation relies on more than process alone, it relies on a set of very specific traits that any entrepreneur should have when aspiring to do business with low-income communities in underdeveloped markets: we call this the Inclusive Innovator DNA.

In this first module we hope to set the stage and help you understand that:

  • Inclusive innovation is an entrepreneurial activity to develop something new that has a positive impact on the lives of underserved communities.
  • A good inclusive innovation mixes Impact, Desirability, Viability, Feasibility, and Suitability, and will likely not succeed if you neglect any of these during your design process.
  • Inclusive innovators are entrepreneurs that exhibit a strong coping mechanism for the uncertainties and complexities that low-income markets bring.
  • Although we can generally distinguish 4 phases (Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver), no inclusive innovation process is linear and most require many iterations.


This module is part of the Inclusive Innovation Course course.
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inclusive innovation online course

Inclusive Innovation Course


It is an exciting time for Inclusive Innovation in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). As international awareness grows on the inclusion of low-income groups in the development of products and services, new business opportunities arise for entrepreneurs that want to combine profit with social impact.

The SAIS Inclusive Innovation training provides you with a unique opportunity to discover the fundamentals of designing and delivering impactful business solutions for underserved communities or the “Base of the Pyramid”.

Why invest your time

In this training course, Inclusive Innovation experts from Bopinc will share inspirational stories from African entrepreneurs, useful tips and practical assignments that allow you to apply new knowledge to your own case. Each course module will build your capabilities to better cope with the challenges that many startups and innovation support organisations experience when entering underserved markets.

What you can expect

The Inclusive Innovation course is best enjoyed in a 14-week period. This gives you 2 weeks to complete each module. Expect to spend approximately an hour to read the module, and another 1 or 2 hours to work on the assignment. That is 2-3 hours per module. While you can follow this course individually, we highly recommend you work in pairs or teams and use the assignments for your own innovation project. In the end, you learn most through practice.

Note that the order of the modules does not reflect their level of importance. All topics are crucial to the success of your Inclusive Innovation and should be considered and revisited throughout your journey.


Each module follows the same format:

  • Introduction & key learnings
  • Podcast featuring inspirational entrepreneurs
  • 2 or 3 theory sections inspired from real cases
  • Quiz to test yourself on new theory
  • Assignment to apply the theory to your own business case
  • Additional reading materials