Grassroots Innovation


Example: Ushahidi

A well-known example of grassroots innovation took shape in 2007 when Kenya held its presidential election, which was afterwards heavily disputed and resulted in the outbreak of nationwide violence.


Based on the principle of crowdsourcing, a community website was launched that informed locals and government officials of election violence and eyewitness reports. Using this service, individuals were able to post incidents of violence on Google Maps simply through email or text messages. This proved to be a very effective crisis management tool, which since found application in many areas across the world.


Inspired by this, Indian company Ushahidi (Swahili for “testimony” or “witness”), a not-for-profit firm specialising in open-source software, subsequently started using its platform for information collection, visualisation, and interactive mapping to coordinate bottom-up responses to cataclysmic events such as hurricanes, earthquakes, or epidemic outbreaks. 


Grassroots innovation shares some characteristics with Jugaad innovation, but is more BOP-community focused and depends on online networks to facilitate the transfer of knowledge among inventors.


Social responsibility, ecological comprehension, sustainable development and sustainable consumption are important differentiating factors.

  • ‘Engineered’ for social enhancement of communities

  • Network-based, Open Innovation, sustainability, not-for-profit

  • Resourceful social entrepreneurs in BOP

Source: de Waal, 2006

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