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Centre for Building Sustainable Value

Marleen Wierenga

Aalto University School of Business

A social bricolage approach to scaling innovations of the grassroots entrepreneur in resource-scarce environments


The study is about the scaling process of innovations developed by grassroots entrepreneurs in resource-scarce environments. Grassroots entrepreneurs operate in a complex environment with limited financial, human and social capitalThe theoretical lens comes from social bricolage, which has been previously used to study social enterprises in the Western resource-scarce context but is now applied to the developing country context. 

 At this stage, it is a descriptive study with preliminary results, but a field visit, to conduct interviews and observations, will take place in the near future. The preliminary findings show, that the activities performed by support organizations play a big role in the scaling success of grassroots entrepreneurs. The entrepreneurs lack the knowledge of usability and safety related product requirements, financial resources, entrepreneurship skills and legitimacy in front of third parties. The support organizations, which are state agencies, public venture-funding agencies, universities and newspapers, help bridge this knowledge gap. 


As a second year PhD Candidate at the Aalto University School of Business, the research interest of Marleen is with grassroots entrepreneurs, sustainable innovations and collaboration. She wants to understand how innovations are developed and scaled in resource-scarce environments when different stakeholders work together. Her empirical setting is primarily in India, but includes also a North-South collaboration between Finland and Tanzania. Marleen is currently part of the multidisciplinary research group “New Global” at the Aalto University. The research of the group focuses on co-creating innovations in complex global systems.  

Prior to the PhD, she completed an MSc degree in Management with a focus on Sustainability from a multidisciplinary perspectiveShe has also completed several internships related to sustainability and corporate responsibility in both public and private organizations. In the future Marleen sees herself as a professor at a university and working in close collaboration with actors from the global South.

Marleen Wierenga

Marleen Wierenga

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