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Welcome > Stories > Why do we play? Because we have to.

Why do we play? Because we have to.


Serious gaming was the theme of last Thursday’s Borrel of the Pyramid – a regular event at the Hub and an amusing play on the name for businesses that cater to “the bottom 4 billion”.

In a fun and educational evening, SuJol presented the challenges of providing clean water in Bangladesh, and asking an audience of around 60 to participate in its problem solving. Currently the ground water contains toxic levels of arsenic that increase rates of cancer. For this Sujol is working with several stakeholders to provide filtered water at an affordable price, an idea that will also create entrepreneurs on the ground.

The success of the game lay in its clever set up by Thomas Schuurmans, a consultant from the ProPortion Foundation, partners in the SuJol consortium.

A stylistic map presented the problems and opportunities present in Bangladesh, and the common local behaviour. This was enough information to provoke but not burden energetic thought.

The response was an astonishing diversity of solutions, reflecting the experience of the students, entrepreneurs, academics and business people in attendance. Insights from marketing, social business, academia and NGO field work were combined in different ways by the 9 teams presenting proposals. At moments it was uncomfortable to see business tactics brought to bear on solving a health issue, but this is the power and radicalism of social enterprise – that it uses tools developed in diverse spheres of activity and evaluates their use in terms of impact on the ground, removed of bias and prejudice.

“SuJol has the philosophy to co-create a social business solution with all kinds of stakeholders.” said Thomas “Since the challenge has multiple angles, the solution should be holistically developed. This evening has shown that the diversity of people’s backgrounds, cultures and expertise is key in tackling social pressing needs via a business approach. We need to play those games together, to really come to new insights and new ideas.”

ProPortion expressed their gratitude for all the ideas, which will be input for further social business development in Bangladesh. What was spectacular about the evening was the enthusiasm and the participation of so many people willing to invest their time and creativity, and that Proportion are willing to use such events as input for real business solutions. In doing so they created an educational experience for all involved.

It’s at this nexus of education, social vibrancy and critical solutions that social business seeks to steer its course. Why do we play? Because we have to.

This article also appears in the Hub Amsterdam’s monthly newsletter: HubDate.

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