Roundabout Outdoor and PlayPumps International: A Hybrid Business Model to Tackle the Water Scarcity Problem

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Case Details:

Case Code : BSTR380
Case Length : 23 Pages
Period : 1994-2010
Pub Date : 2010
Teaching Note : Available
Organization : Roundabout Outdoor / PlayPumps International
Industry : Social / Safe water
Countries : Africa

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Introduction Contd...

The absence of potable water supply has not only led to gender inequality but also affected the growth potential of the region, they said.

The PlayPump, a child's roundabout (merry-go-round), was attached to a water pump, a storage tank, and a tap. As children played on the merry-go-round, the system pumped water to the storage tank and communities living nearby could use this clean water.

The four surfaces of the storage tanks also doubled up as billboards for commercial and public education/social messages. Revenue earned from the advertising helped maintain the water systems for up to a decade.

"It's a win-win situation...Children enjoy riding on it, particularly as these are places with no toys. Villagers no longer have to walk hours to the nearest well... The beauty of the roundabout pumps is that they are really simple, low-tech, and exactly what Africa needs,"3 said Field, who visualized the concept and gave up his well-paid job with an established publishing house to pursue it.

Roundabout Outdoor (RO), a for-profit organization with a social mission co-founded by Field, installed and maintained these PlayPumps while PlayPumps International (PI), a non-profit organization also co-founded by Field, helped arrange the funds for installing the water systems. Over the years, RO and PI were able to build innovative partnerships with individuals, corporations, governments, foundations, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to donate PlayPumps to African communities.4...

Excerpts >>

3] Christina Lamb, "The Drought-busting Magic Roundabout,", April 17, 2005.

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