Almost 80% of the world’s population is currently underserviced or not serviced at all. Being
serviced is defined by basic access to running water, electricity and sanitation (Prahalad,
2006). South Africa is no stranger to this lack of service, as the poor distribution of wealth
causes most services and products to be available only to a fraction of the population. This
document aims to introduce a new way of looking at service design for low income
communities. A large part of this project attempts the redesign of certain key business
components from an Industrial Engineering point of view, in order to enable the
development of a sustainable business model in low-income communities.
The proposed project will aim to develop a service and replenishment model for the low
income movie theatre. This involves analysing the service needs of a typical movie theatre
and then re-engineering the service to fit the needs of low income communities. This unit
will be known as the Busy Box. The scope of the project will include the full design of the
service and support systems for the Busy Box theatre as well as logistical, social and
technical considerations for this unit. Additionally, this project aims to create a profitable
business hub out of the Busy Box Theatre, not only to help reduce income inequality but
also to expand the market of large corporations and gain customer loyalty. That way, when
these customers enter the mainstream economy, they will be more likely to have brand
recognition and will develop a need for certain products and services. Finally, the Busy Box
Theatre is meant to transform from a movie theatre by night into an educational support
centre by day, providing much needed educational support in low income communities and
thus educational considerations must also be taken into play.
It was determine that an offering can be made for 10-20 Rand per viewing. The next step
involved designing technological and innovative approaches to overcome the specific
challenges faced in these communities. This involved developing a custom design process
for the Busy Box and similar business ventures. After this process, the Busy Box prototype
was built and tested at Pretoria Boys High School and then moved to a live test in
The results from the site test of the concept were outstanding. The Busy Box design was
capable of producing its own power and running for over 8 months without the need for
major services. The Busy Box was developed and transported for less than the scheduled
budget of R230 000 and currently maintains less than R10 000 in running costs. Overall this
project aimed to create a new theory for developing businesses in conditions where it was
previously considered extremely difficult to do so and has succeeded in doing so.
Dissertation (B.Eng. (Industrial and Systems Engineering))--University of Pretoria, 2014.