[SE19-CCI] From Developing to Scaling Up Innovative Social Businesses at the Base of the Pyramid

DAY 3 – Wednesday 4 May – 11:45-13:15
Swiss Tech | Room 1C | Level Garden

Session Leaders | Summary | Panelists and Abstracts


Session Leaders

Grégoire Castella
Antenna Technologies Foundation, Switzerland

After completing his PhD in Life Sciences at EPFL in 2008, Greg got out of the lab and joined the International Committee of the Red Cross. He served as a delegate and manager in Ivory Coast, Afghanistan, and Colombia. After returning to Switzerland, Greg joined Antenna Technologies, an innovation-for-development foundation, which has successfully brought to the market innovative products to meet the basic needs of people living at the bottom of the pyramid. Greg and his team recently launched OOLUX SA, a startup marketing a solar kit designed for off grid populations.


Jérôme Voillat
Antenna Technologies Foundation, Switzerland

After studying international business in Reins, Jérôme worked in various positions in large private companies. He was then involved for several years in the non-profit sector as a project manager (Cameroon and Laos). Following these field experiences, he was appointed in Paris as project coordinator for an EU cooperation program in the horn of Africa. He joined Antenna Technologies Water Department early 2015. With his team, he implements projects on autonomous technology and business models for vulnerable communities lacking access to safe water.



Identifying and understanding the challenges of scaling up social businesses is key for technology-for-development entrepreneurs. From spotting a promising technology, developing its potential, to scaling it up and building a commercially viable company, many obstacles await the social entrepreneur. At every stage, the startup has to tackle external and internal barriers, ranging from changing a customer’s mindset, expanding reach or establishing meaningful partnerships, to accessing financing or building in-house expertise.

This session will entail presentations of companies at every step of the business development. Starting with experience sharing on key processes developed by early-stage companies, the focus will then be given to more mature companies discussing the challenges of scaling up. The importance of building value-creating partnerships and initiatives in this field will also be described. Concrete field examples from various industries (including energy access, safe water, and agriculture technologies) will emphasize solutions that work. The discussion will focus on successful business models that brought to the market innovative solutions to reach the customers (last-mile distribution) and to make the technology affordable.

The session objective is to draw general lessons that will benefit stakeholders active in various social businesses and to identify the key factors young entrepreneurs should keep in mind when designing their own business model. This session will allow experienced and aspiring social entrepreneurs in technology-for-development businesses to interact and figure out what hurdles still need to be overcome to scale up the ventures to create even greater social impact.


Saad Rehan Khan, Pakoswiss Technologies Ltd, Pakistan, Scaling Up Household Water Treatment Systems (HWTS) in Pakistan with WATA Technology [PDF Full Paper]


Sanghamitra Misra, Development Alternatives, New Delhi, India, Reaching the Last Mile – Technology Solutions and Models for Service Delivery [PDF Full Paper]


Jon Sumanik-Leary, Loughborough University, United Kingdom, A Review of the Behavioural Change Challenges Facing a Proposed Solar and Battery Electric Cooking Concept [PDF Full Paper]


Joel Jeanloz, African Solar Generation & OOLUX SA, Switzerland, Challenges in Building Up a Solar Business [invited speaker]