billionBricks: Homes for the Homeless
(9 pages of text)
By late 2018, a Singapore-based non-profit organization, billionBricks, had completed seven projects, rehabilitating more than a thousand homeless and disaster-stricken people in Asia. Its tent product was widely accepted and could, it was projected, meet the needs of millions of homeless people. Despite these achievements, the co-founder and chief executive officer felt that the company’s performance had not met his expectations. A key challenge was communicating with those who needed homes: the company’s traditional methods of communication were ineffective in reaching out to a marginalized population challenged by illiteracy and access to information. However, the prime minister of India had just announced his ambitious plan to end India’s homelessness and sought entrepreneurs for idea generation and execution. Should billionBricks participate in the government housing project to grow its Indian customer base, even if doing so included the risk of potential failure? Or should the company focus instead on other projects and risk being locked out of future housing projects in India?
This case is suitable for undergraduate-, graduate-, and executive-level courses on entrepreneurship and innovation, social entrepreneurship, sustainability goals and innovation in entrepreneurship, and non-profit social enterprises. After working through the case and assignment questions students will be able to
- understand the societal and health issues that arise from homelessness;
- understand how social entrepreneurs can combine the capabilities of research, design, technology, and marketing to build scalable, affordable, and sustainable solutions for people who are homeless;
- understand the challenges faced by non-profit organizations;
- understand how non-profit organizations can leverage networks and alliances to enhance their performance; and
- understand the managerial issues and trade-offs that are made when deciding on strategic options.
Social Advocacy Organizations
India, Small, 2018
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