Critically discuss the following three questions. Use effectively concepts, models, and theories learnt in the module to support your answer and provide arguments for your position.
- How could you reconcile the social agenda – make radios freely available – with the commercial challenges of running a business? What problems do you think Freeplay face in trying to sustain the business?
- Jennifer Peters has an idea for water treatment which could help provide clean drinking water to millions of people in Africa. Using ideas from the Freeplay story, what advice would you give her to help her take this forward? And what should she watch out for?
- Do you think it’s easier or harder to create a sustainable business venture with a social entrepreneurship idea? Why?
Your answers should be 600 words each.
You are expected to demonstrate your own creativity and critical thinking and analysis based on strong argumentation that blends theory and practice. This is an academic piece of work. Therefore, every claim you make needs to be justified and supported.
Using the Products
The scope for application is wide since it meets the basic human need for communication
and enables a wide range of information, education and community-building activities. Some
examples from the radio side of the business include:
• A project (funded by various development agencies) using communication satellites
and FM radio technology to communicate weather, agricultural and health
information to nomadic communities and villages across Africa. The pilot is built on a
model in the village of Bankilare, outside Niger’s capital, Niamey, and combines a
WorldSpace satellite receiver, a laptop, Freeplay radios, a transmitter, solar panels
and other equipment. Information is downloaded from the Internet via a satellite
connection. It is then rebroadcast via a community FM radio station powered by solar
energy. Villagers, nomads and farmers living in remote and poorly served areas
receive broadcasts on Freeplay radios. The aim of this project is to provide timely
information on the weather, with implications for crop-planting and livestock care,
availability of water, market prices for crops, associated diseases, health and disaster
mitigation. This is just as important for the nomad as for the farmer. As stated by a
nomad: ‘I do not depend on the rain that falls on my head, but on streams running
from the hills when they flood. So just tell me when it will rain in that distant land
and I will know what to do’.
• In Madagascar the Ministries of Communication and Health, working with various
aid agencies, developed a radio drama series for women’s listening clubs in
Madagascar. Wind-up radios, funded by Rotary, were distributed to clubs who
provided regular feedback on the programmes. The series is aimed at improving
health education, family planning and AIDS prevention. Similarly in Ethiopia people
living in remote communities in Ethiopia’s Harar Province are tuning in twice weekly
to a radio serial drama aimed at creating awareness and prevention of HIV/AIDS – a
project funded by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
• According to the Zambian Ministry of Education (MOE) 800 000 Zambian children
are unable to attend school. They cannot afford it, are orphans, live too far to walk to
school or are girls who are kept at home. The attrition rate of teachers poses another
problem – 2 teachers are dying of AIDS for every one who is trained. The MOE,
together with the Educational Broadcasting Services, is using interactive radio
instruction to help fill the educational void. Each morning thousands of primary
school learners listen to the lively English and maths programme, Learning at
Taonga Market, on the radio. To assist with the lesson, adult mentors from the
community are trained to use radio as a teaching aid. The Peace Corps in Zambia
purchased Freeplay radios for their volunteers to distribute. These volunteers are
trained in the mentoring process and then train community mentors, enabling the
programme to reach deep rural areas. In addition, Rotary UK is helping to raise funds
to bring more radios to community schools.
• In early 2000, hundreds of thousands of Mozambicans were displaced by
catastrophic flooding. One of the items that people lost were radios – often the only
access to information. Various donor agencies including the Freeplay Foundation
distributed over 7000 radios and a daily programme called Ndhambi was created in
the local language, Shangani. Ndhambi covered information on health, sanitation,
hygiene, the location of landmines, obtaining lost ID documents and title deeds,
governance, tracing and contacting lost family members, as well as agricultural
assistance, all of which were of great importance during the post-flood period. During
the crisis in Kosovo in 1999, DFID and the ICRC purchased over 40 000 Freeplay
radios to distribute to refugees on the move and in camps in Albania and
Montenegro. Here they played a part in helping to find missing relatives and to
inform of the location of landmines, contaminated water supplies and booby-trapped
Case Study Questions
- How could you reconcile the social agenda – make radios freely available – with the
commercial challenges of running a business? What problems do you think Freeplay
face in trying to sustain the business?
- Jennifer Peters has an idea for water treatment which could help provide clean
drinking water to millions of people in Africa. Using ideas from the Freeplay story,
what advice would you give her to help her take this forward? And what should she
watch out for?
- Do you think it’s easier or harder to create a sustainable business venture with a
social entrepreneurship idea? Why?