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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Please note:

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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How It Began

The Birmingham-born Field had had a career in advertising and marketing. He had also worked extensively in the printing and publishing industries, both in South Africa (SA) and the UK. Between 1971 and 1974, he worked with British Telkom and trained as Senior Technician in transmission...

Roundabout Outdoor & PlayPumps International

Subsequently, Field and his colleagues made more changes in the PlayPump's features and named the product 'PlayPump Water System', which they registered as a trademark.

For most of the 1990s, the promoters worked tirelessly to improve the water system's functionality and durability...

The Water System

The PlayPump water systems were installed in places such as school playgrounds, clinics, and community centers. According to Field, "It's a positive displacement water pump, and as the children spin around, it transfers their energy into vertical or reciprocal motion, and that pumps water from an underground borehole or well to the surface where it's stored in a tank for future use."...

A Social Innovation?

Experts felt that the PlayPump was a social innovation that was also sustainable. Herman Diale, Eskom's corporate social investment consultant, said, "Eskom decided to get involved because of the project's sustainability and the viability of improving the quality of life for rural communities...

Growing Through Collaboration

Many investors were attracted by the simple yet ingenious technology and the business model that supported the installation of PlayPumps, and since the late 1990s, RO was able to scale up significantly...

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