Unlocking value in marginalized communities: What innovations are in the pipeline?

Top innovators unlocking value in marginalized communities

As per the recent report by World Economic Forum, developing a more inclusive economy and unlocking value in marginalized communities should go hand in hand. There have been innovations which focuses on how certain businesses can join hands with social value innovators. These innovators try to manage exclusion and develop economic benefit in 3 key ways. 

Marginalized communities mean the group of people who experience social, economic, political, or cultural exclusion or discrimination on the basis of their identity, location, or circumstances. 

These include 1) by venturing into new markets in the diverse communities, 2) by gaining access to talent pools which were earlier untapped, and 3) by increasing the supplier networks. This will help in including sellers who were earlier excluded or marginalized. 

If this approach gets ignored, “prosperity cap” will be placed on the global economy. In the US alone, the widening racial wealth gap might cost the overall country upto $1.5 trillion in the economic growth by the end of 2028. 

What are the best practices in engaging marginalized communities?

Between COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest, a range of cities have either started or expanded outreach to marginalized communities. This development has been welcomed by the government bodies. This is because combination of health, economic, and cultural challenges impacted groups which are already facing some battle. 

First step for local governments remains on determining and figuring out which groups are marginalized in their community and why. In some cities, poverty is the main concern and, in some, racial discrimination. 

To avoid ignoring those are required to be engaged the most, local leaders should promote inclusion, listening, and different approaches to engagement. Therefore, first step is establishing understanding of community landscape. 

Next is the engagement process. When stepping into this, it is of utmost importance to recognize that communities might have pre-existing relationships or previous experiences with some department or division of the local government. Such prior experiences are expected to influence and structure any future interactions with the said community. 

To drive inclusivity, it is important to meet community and begin listening and understanding their experiences. Remember, here the focus should be to bridge divides. To do this, representatives of local governments may go for digital and in-person surveys, organised discussion groups, organising an open forum, etc. Therefore, engaging them in the decision-making process can help in achieving the target of unlocking value in marginalized communities.

While this is easier said than done, how can a local governing body engage marginalized communities in the decision-making process?

Strategies for engaging marginalized communities

First step is to identify which marginalized communities will be affected by the decision. It is important to organise a stakeholder analysis to discuss and assess their interests, expectations, and power relations. 

Next step is to build trust and rapport with marginalized communities. Trust is of utmost importance for meaningful engagement. This is because it promotes openness, honesty, and collaboration. It is important to exhibit respect, empathy, and sincerity in the interactions with marginalized communities. 

Local body should also acknowledge and address any power imbalances, biases, or stereotypes which might have an impact on relationship. 

To involve them in the decision making, next step is to use participatory methods. Participatory methods mean tools and techniques allowing people to share views, experiences, and knowledge. It is important to choose methods which are suitable for context and objectives. 

Finally, target of unlocking value in marginalized communities and to involve in decision-making process will be achieved through co-creating solutions. 

This is a process of collaborative problem-solving and innovation involving several stakeholders. It helps in tapping into creativity, expertise, and resources of such communities and to frame solutions which are relevant and effective.

While above steps can be followed by the local governing bodies, there should be some support from the private sector and businessmen in unlocking value in marginalized communities. 

Top innovators unlocking value in marginalized communities

1. Hello Tractor

In Nigeria, Hello Tractor is an app helping smallholder farmers in renting and owning tractors. Established by Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Jehiel Oliver, it helps tractor owners in renting out their machinery.

Through supporting the farmers, social value this innovation is delivering is increased agricultural productivity.

2. BlocPower

In the US, New York-based BlocPower continues to support low-income Black and Hispanic residents in bringing low carbon heating systems in buildings. The company uses software so that it can analyse building’s potential related to energy-efficient electric systems. 

BlocPower is delivering social value in the form of green jobs programme which is delivering green construction training to Black and Hispanic people.

3. R3 Score

R3 Score is the social enterprise having software tool. This helps in gaining access to jobs and mainstream banking products who have a criminal record. 

Over 30% of Americans are having criminal records and these disproportionately include Black and Hispanic people. The company is creating social value through increasing employment opportunities for both businesses and jobseekers.

4. Greyston Bakery

Greyston Bakery is the bakery and social enterprise in located in New York. It focuses on creating social value through pioneering a no-barriers, no-bias recruitment process which is known as Open Hiring. 

In this, there is no requirement of CVs or background checks. The applicants enter information in an online waiting list and when the position opens, they will get an offer.

5. Roots Studio

The 5th company, Roots Studio, supports artists from indigenous and minority cultures. The company protects and licences the art. In this way, the company delivers social value through supporting indigenous and rural minority communities. They benefit from the income and the company preserves their cultural heritage.

6. PretaHub

Finally, the 6th social innovator, PretaHub, which is based in São Paulo, is the company that supports Black entrepreneurship. It provides physical space, technical training and financial credit. Apart from these, it provides access to retail and corporate networks. 

This company is delivering social value through integrating Black and Indigenous entrepreneurs in the corporate supply chains. It also helps companies in diversifying what they buy.

CEO & Editor
I'm Ved Prakash, Founder & Editor @Newsblare Media, specialised in Business and Finance niches who writes content for reputed publication such as,, Motley Fool Singapore, etc. I'm the contributor of different... news sites that have widened my views on the current happenings in the world.

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