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A conceptual review of social enterprise in social and economic value creation: The case of Sulabh International Social Service Organisation (SISSO), India

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Social entrepreneurship is emerging as an important field of study within business disciplines. It has a legacy and a global presence. It is considered to be the 'new instrument' of reform to create social transformation through innovative techniques to serve under-privileged citizens at the bottom of the pyramid (Dees, 2007. However, measuring the effectiveness of a social mission and social value creation is challenging. Social enterprises which are financially viable and which create social value are termed "Hybrid Organisations". Many Asian countries have examples of such hybrid organisations which are sustainable and successful.

Research objectives

• To identify a social enterprise which is successful in India, to create and sustain social and economic value for the bottom of the pyramid.

• To document Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Movement), an initiative by the Indian Government to abolish open defecation and the services of manual scavengers by 2019.

Research methodology

This study uses the case study as a research method. The case study method in research is appropriate for exploratory research and for social issues where holistic and comprehensive information is required. It can depict social issues which cannot be addressed by quantitative research methods.

Case study: SISSO

The paper documents a successful social enterprise in India which is also a hybrid organisation. It is a spectacular growth story of the Sulabh International Social Service Organisation (SISSO), which has applied the Pay-What-You-Want (PWYW) pricing mechanism. The organisation serves over 16 million Indian citizens that live below the US$ 1.25 per day poverty line and does incredible work in the area of sanitation and public health. It also documents Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India Movement), a Government of India campaign for generation of awareness, and to improve public health, sanitation and waste management.


The paper documents only one case study of a social enterprise in India, though there are many in different areas which are working successfully in India.

Future Research

Future research should be aimed at understanding whether rural communities have changed their attitudes towards sanitation and hygiene due to SISSO. A longitudinal survey is essential to evaluate users' and non-users' attitudes and their perceptions towards SISSO in furthering social revolution.


The paper seeks to make a contribution to literature on social entrepreneurship in developing economies by enriching our understanding of "Hybrid Organisations" in the area of public health and sanitation in India. It further discusses how these organisations use the Pay-What-You-Want (PWYW) pricing mechanism to make them successful and sustainable.
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Document Type: Case Report

Publication date: 01 March 2017

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