Frugal innovations of South African female social entrepreneurs

Thea Tselepis, Cecile Nieuwenhuizen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The good practices of female social entrepreneurs in developing contexts who are able to grow their social entrepreneurial endeavours through innovative problem-solving processes should be understood in order to inform policymakers and models that enhance social value add and innovation for social good. This study explores and describes the Frugal Innovation of female social entrepreneurs who are able to grow their endeavours. Problems that the women deal with are linked to the dimensions of Frugal Innovation from a Design Thinking perspective to illustrate the complexity of the issues that these women encounter. A qualitative approach is applied to the study. A purposive sample of 11 cases of a South African sample frame of 45 was selected as these women displayed growth and innovation in their endeavours whilst engaging in solving complex problems. In a content analysis of their innovative problem-solving, findings indicate that the enablers of Frugal Innovation in the social entrepreneurial context are leveraged by the women in the study to grow their endeavours towards systemic integration. This way, they are creating more sustainable solutions that can be viewed as good practice which may inform policymakers and other social entrepreneurial models. The original contribution of this study lies in the application of the theoretical framework in an interdisciplinary way, to provide insight on Frugal Innovation in a social entrepreneurial context that might become increasingly relevant in a post-pandemic world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)678-689
Number of pages12
JournalAfrican Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • design thinking
  • frugal innovation
  • policy
  • post-pandemic
  • social entrepreneurs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Development
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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