Processes of frugal social innovation: Creative approaches in underserved South African communities

Lorini M. R., Ngwenyama O., Chigona W.

Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries, vol.88, no.3, 2022 (ESCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 88 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1002/isd2.12220
  • Journal Name: Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Scopus, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, INSPEC, DIALNET
  • Keywords: frugal innovation, inclusivity, principles, social innovation
  • TED University Affiliated: No


© 2022 The Authors. The Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.The article presents three case studies of frugal social innovation developed by groups of citizens from underserved communities of Cape Town, South Africa. The processes are analyzed to highlight how innovation emerged. Three factors were crucial: lack of resources, social transformation goals, and flexibility of the approach to technologies. Their combination allowed for creativity and inclusivity to become the drivers of the processes. The information and communication technology outcomes are innovative in the context and for the participants. More innovative are the processes, which maintained a high level of participation, a collective collaboration and a focus on the social transformative impact of the digital solutions. Furthermore, while much of the literature on frugal and social innovation has a business perspective whereby users are referred to as customers, the cases present community groups as innovators. This approach contributes to the development of a theory, which expands existing ones on frugal and social innovation. The principles derived from the analysis represent the contribution to practice in the ICT4D domain. They show how in a space with limited technical and procedural knowledge, it is possible to reduce the blinders toward innovation and operate in an ecosystem where participation, inclusion, and growth develop.