Globalization & Localization
There are 2 seemingly opposing economic forces in the world today. Globalization and Localization.
Globalization promotes the free movement of goods and services between communities or countries. On the other hand, localization emphasizes on promoting local businesses and being more self-dependent.- Difference Between | Descriptive Analysis and Comparisons
While both have existed simultaneously for a few millennia, globalization leapt forward over last 250 years since the advent of industrialization. One of the biggest consequences of globalization, arguably, has been wealth inequality within countries and acute poverty in developing nations. As a matter of fact the word ‘globalization’ has gained negative connotation. A catastrophe happening in one part of the world can bring down businesses or affect whole economies in other part since they are interconnected.
However, there is a social movement emerging in many countries and it is based on localization. Be it organic farmers in America growing and selling their crop locally or community based solar grids in India producing their own energy, they are quintessential examples of localization. Localization is more than an economic phenomenon. It has assumed the colours of a social movement in most cases. People and communities simply don’t want to be vulnerable to events and actors beyond their shores.
Social Innovation And Localization
What is localization? Some of the best examples of localization I have seen are those organizations that mobilize and deploy local resources- labour, material, and production in their supply chain and design products or services for consumption by local end users.
I believe that social innovation is the facilitator of localization. Social innovation is distinct from conventional innovation.
An innovation is truly social only if the balance is tilted toward social value—benefits to the public or to society as a whole—rather than private value—gains for entrepreneurs, investors, and ordinary (not disadvantaged) consumers. – Stanford Social Innovation Review
This distinction between private and social value is crucial. Typically, private value is accrued by scaling innovation for commercial gains by accessing different markets. Social value on the other hand is created by innovating for a specific social context. It is centered around addressing indigenous problems by predominantly deploying local resources. It is possible to replicate social innovation for similar social contexts but the final objective is always the benefit of local communities. When social innovation is scaled using modern business management practices it becomes a social enterprise.
Localization In The Real World
Let’s look at how localization works along with social innovation.
Solar Urja through Localisation for Sustainability (SoULS)
SoULS is an initiative of IIT Bombay. One of the founding principles of this project is localization of production of solar lamps.
The solar lamps are assembled locally, used by local people and serviced by the locals. By transferring technical skills and knowledge and training locals to use technology, they cease to become dependent on anyone.- SoULS
The core social innovation of SoULS is not the solar lamp as a product. It is the impact model that leads to improvement in the lives of its primary beneficiaries- women and school children from rural communities.
Social value created by SoULS is in form of empowerment of rural women, livelihood creation for rural communities and increase in study hours for children in villages leading to better education.
Haqdarshak is a social enterprise that helps citizens benefit from various central and state govt schemes.Their core social innovation lies in the delivery of a repository of schemes through technology to a team of Haqdarshaks (local registered service providers) spread across different states. These Haqdarshaks provide eligibility information and support to local communities to access relevant schemes.
Haqdarshak’s biggest social value is helping underserved communities avail their rights guaranteed by the state thus empowering them to help themselves.
Mata is an all-woman fair trade social enterprise based in Chicago in the US. They work with more than 1000 women artisans in India and Nepal to make apparel, jewelry and accessories. They sell this merchandise in 50 states and 12 countries.
Mata’s core social innovation lies not only in creating a global e-commerce platform for talented artisans from a specific region but also offering its consumers ethically sourced and locally produced merchandise.
Providing indigenous women a source of stable income which allows them to better provide for their families is Mata’s primary social value.
iKure is a social enterprise that delivers last mile rural healthcare services through a combination of health outreach initiative, skills development, and technology intervention.
Its primary social innovation is skilling members of local populace in door-step monitoring and diagnostic support through use of a technology platform and mobilizing local NGOs, hospitals and research organizations towards delivery of required healthcare services.
iKure’ social value is qualitatively improving healthcare needed by underserved communities who earlier relied on quacks or awfully inadequate govt health centers. This has a positive bearing on others aspects of their lives.
Localization of products and services is chiefly instrumental in creating sustainable social value for local populace. Social innovation is the underlying force behind this localization.