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Book Review: The Disruptors – Social Entrepreneurs Reinventing Business and Society

Book Review: The Disruptors – Social Entrepreneurs Reinventing Business and Society

Authors: Kerryn Krige and Gus Silber (2016).Format and Publisher: Paperback – 205 Pages. Published by Bookstorm (Pty.) Ltd on behalf of the Gordon Institute of Business Science (2016).

Review: © Wayne Mallinson (22 September 2016) at www.novationnow.co.za

Cover Illustration and Design layout
The Disruptors has a brilliant cover illustration and design layout given the nature of the book and social entrepreneurship and innovation in South Africa. South Africa is a country of fences and boundaries. These fences are found not only in our companies and towns, but also in our politics and in our relationships. The stories in this book are whispering hope and prosperity for all. The ever-so-gentle removal of obstacles between people and the liberating of new thoughts can be seen in the cover. The boundaries in our society and in our minds are seen to be wonderfully transforming into energetic ideas like birds against a blue sky of opportunity. Look down and see the fence or look up and see the promises.

The Disruptors

Structure of the Book
Kerryn Krige and Gus Silber showcase 14 South African social entrepreneurs in their useful book, The Disruptors. The social entrepreneurs are showcased in three different groupings: Dreaming and Disrupting is a grouping about the power of social entrepreneurship; Mind of the Maverick is a grouping which highlights the personalities of social entrepreneurs; and Navigating the Great Unknown explains the strategies and approaches of social entrepreneurs.

Each entrepreneur’s story is told with detail and insight, allowing the reader to follow them as they explore new products, services and opportunities. Each new business is somewhat of a mix between a social enterprise and a commercial undertaking, and reflects parts of both end point classifications. Each story is followed by a graphical depiction and explanation of a researched model showing how profit and the social good of people inter-relate in the unique case.

The book ends with a brief global perspective on South African Social Entrepreneurship.

Dreaming and Disrupting
The story of Ludwick Marishane is one example that explains the power of social entrepreneurship and in this case the power of an idea, essentially, “how can one skip a bath and get away with it?” Many of the stories start with ideas that seem outlandish, crazy, and doomed to failure. Impossible seeds on which to pin one’s hopes. The Disruptors will show time and again (fourteen times), that with innovation, and in the right social contexts, there is a way to success, but it’s usually not a straight line. DryBath® is designed to meet the needs of over two billion people who don’t have easy access to water. The poor, campers, music festival goers, those in a rush to get to work, hikers, and yes, those that don’t like bathing, form this huge market potential. It does the product no harm that each bath avoided, saves about 40 litres of water. The ‘lame’ idea now actualised, continues to add millions of rands while it saves even more millions of litres of water and improves sanitation across the land.

The Mind of the Maverick
Anne Githuku-Shongwe got her inspiration from seeing her son enjoying a digital game with Shaka Zulu as the hero. This resulted in her leaving a well-paid job to pioneer Afroes, a company that grew by producing digital games with African heroes and heroines. Each game inspires hope, possibility and prosperity among African children while also positively dealing with the wide ranging educational issues of gender violence, the environment, and career selection for example. Today Afroes licenses content, offers consulting, and shares ‘life learning’ and career advice at schools and universities in South Africa. At the end of this story the Big Five personality traits are mapped onto five dimensions of social entrepreneurship: social vision, innovation, and the other three are depicted on page 95 of the book. Yes. I’m urging you to buy your own copy of ‘The Disruptors’.
Navigating the Great Unknown

Neil Campher’s end-product is significant. It results from the transforming of a fractured and sometimes violent community into a re-imagined community by the huge efforts of the people of the area themselves with some local government support. Neil skilfully found civic pride, compassion, and mutual support and upliftment within the people of the town of Helenvale. These community assets were harnessed into a recycling initiative providing sustainable jobs and at the same time cleaning up and absolutely renewing and transforming the town. Niel has used the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) approach.

What You Can Learn
Each of the above stories and accompanying researched assessment is told over about 10 to 12 pages of text. In the detail, there is advice on how to raise company finance, partner with the right people, stand up again after setbacks, skilfully interact with customers and suppliers, and how to evolve a product, service or even a community. The advice is not simply dished up on a plate. You will have to follow the story, read between the lines, and reflect on what has happened in each story.

Wayne Mallinson wayne@novationnow.co.za

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