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2.1 Introduction

How to pursue innovative ideas that combine impact with profit and evaluate the opportunities in your market

Inclusive innovation is on the rise in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), creating exciting opportunities for both established firms and new entrepreneurs to venture into these underserved markets with their innovations.

International awareness on the need for the inclusion of low-income groups is growing fast, which creates a favorable environment for inclusive innovation. Never before have entrepreneurs faced such low barriers to engage with impact investors, innovation incubators and (non) governmental programs, all seeking to alleviate poverty through innovative business solutions.

The transition from aid to trade – or: selling your offering to the Base of the Pyramid instead of giving it away for free – is however full of potential setbacks when not approached and executed in the right way. In the previous module we already talked about why inclusive innovators need to have a particular skill set.

In this module, we will focus on why a timely evaluation of the business potential of your innovation is important. This should help you make your best educated guess on whether the inclusive innovation journey you are about to embark on can lead to something that is viable.

Complete this module and you will understand why:

  • Inclusive innovations can only create lasting impact if they also generate profits.

  • Ideas come from everywhere, but those ideas are not innovations until they reach individuals.

  • It is crucial to make an early and modest estimation of the number of individuals you can serve to judge if your idea can be translated into a viable business case.

  • Although scaling is not your immediate primary goal, the success of low-margin businesses at the Base of the Pyramid does rely on their potential to grow.
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
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