Mobile School: Bringing out the wisdom of the street
This case is available at ECCH with reference no. 812-037-1.
Realizing that 90 % of street children that are brought to homes and institutions run away within two days and choose for the streets again, the Mobile School Group (MSG) has developed innovative educational materials and teaching methods that are particularly adapted to life in the streets. Instead of bringing street children to a school, they bring a mobile school to the street, facilitating street educators’ work and aiming to engineer an increase in street children’s self-esteem. The underlying rhetoric is that only when street children build their self-esteem, will they be empowered to choose themselves for a sustainable, better future and maybe exit the street. By 2012, the Mobile School tools and methods had been adopted by thirty-two projects in twenty different countries on four continents, reaching over 15,000 street children.
The case depicts the story of Mobile School’s founder, Arnoud Raskin, and how he developed the organization from a product idea backed by volunteers to a self-sustaining organization that was independent of external funding. In this process, Arnoud Raskin and his colleagues had to deal with a series of dilemmas: 1) how to finance the development of the product; 2) how to finance the growth of the organization, 3) how to design a business model that helped them to become self-sustaining, and 4) how to measure their impact in this process, to justify to all involved what the contribution of the Mobile School group was. The objective of the case is to lead discussions around each of the dilemmas about how to develop an organization with a hybrid motive.
Teaching objectives: The case was designed for discussing the following topics: 1) The nature of being a social entrepreneur; 2) The different options for financing a social venture; 3) The difficulties of finding a business model that can sustain a social venture; 4) How a social venture can measure its impact.