While working with social business development in African countries, all around me pilot projects are blooming. Every new approach to improve infrastructure, to build awareness for gender or human rights or whatever is initiated by a pilot project. African is running over of pilot projects. Africa is even a grave yard of pilot projects. Strange enough most of the pilot projects never took the next step into flourishing scalable projects with significant impacts.
Why do we hide behind pilot projects when starting an activity, which obviously is planned and designed to have an impact on the well-being of the population? Is it the donor who is willing to support a project without taking responsibility for the outcomes? Is it the organization looking for money to carry out a project? Is it an NGO not fully engaged with an activity because it does believe in it? Is it a way to use a population or an area as a laboratory to test ideas?
Honesty is requested to really express what a project is all about. Let us look into infrastructure projects. Technical and engineering solutions are well known to solve all infrastructure challenges in African countries. Is it water treatment for drinking water supplies, is it water storage or distribution, is it waste water handling or solid waste recycling, is it designing a railway or a road, we can apply thousands of well proven solutions just to be adapted for the specific local situation. No pilot project is needed, we know the challenges, the tricky items and critical phases. We have just to do it.
While working with social business development for service delivery in the water sector, the only real challenge is the scaling up within short enough time to stabilise and improve health and livelihood for large populations. While even already applying reasonable and tested concepts, the interest and trust in well approved approaches is still not here. Investors prefer to invest in pilot projects while not acknowledging scalable ongoing infrastructure projects with direct impact for those who are willing to pay for continuous and reliable services. First results have been achieved with small investors setting their confidence in concrete scalable implementations. More investors and interests are needed to let scalable implementations bloom. Not pilot projects will guide the road to the future, but the courage to do the projects.