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Welcome to the support website of the case study “Max Foundation: Reducing Child Mortality through Business Model Innovation”.

It provides all the materials needed to teach a class on business model innovation in social ventures, via an inspiring case study of the Max Foundation. The restricted areas contain the case study itself, the teaching note and a wealth of supporting materials, including videos.

To access these areas, please see the purchase details below. We hope our case study will challenge students to rethink innovation in the not-for-profit sector and stimulate new ideas.

Read an inspection copy of part (A) and part (B) of the case.


Case Synopsis

Imagine you have just lost your first child, and are determined to do something that spares other parents a similar loss. Imagine you then decide to set up a new social venture, because no existing NGO shares your ideas on impact and business model innovation. Imagine you do this in your spare time, as you also have a successful business career.

Now imagine creating a social venture that a few years later will have delivered clean water and sanitation to 200,000 people in rural Bangladesh, saving the lives of thousands of children.

Case A highlights how Steven and Joke le Poole, founders of the Max Foundation, used business model innovation to create a social venture to maximise the (health) return per-euro-spent. The potential for business model innovation is often overlooked, both in the humanitarian and in the business sector. Many of the innovative elements in Max Foundation’s business model can be adopted by other (humanitarian) organisations.

On March 17th 2011, HRH Prince Willem-Alexander, Crown Prince of the Netherlands and Chair of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, recognised the accomplishments of the Max Foundation, and went on to express the hope that many more people in the developing world will be given access to clean water and sanitation through its efforts.

Can the Max Foundation make this happen? Case B outlines three important decisions facing the foundation going forward: What is the best scaling-up strategy and its implications for the Max Foundation’s business model? What is the best way to measure its impact? What is the most appropriate marketing strategy?

The case can be used with different audiences. It includes strategic, organisational and marketing topics and is well-suited for use as an integrative and inter-disciplinary exercise. A wealth of supporting material is available to support the instructor, including videos and background information.


Pedagogical Objectives

Case A pursues the following aims:

  • Familiarizing students with the concept of business models for social ventures and explaining the key decisions and activities within the business model
  • Recognising different opportunities for business model innovation by social ventures
  • Identifying concepts and tools from the business world which can be used in the humanitarian sector, highlighting potential challenges, and recognising solutions to deal with these challenges
  • Deciding which type of innovation - business model innovation or technological innovation - offers the highest value for money in the fight against child mortality
  • Highlighting opportunities for humanitarian organisations to engage in business model innovation

The issues raised in Case B are:

  • Identifying different ways in which social ventures can scale up and increase their impact
  • Evaluating different options for scaling up and identifying the implications for the Max Foundation’s business model
  • Highlighting the importance of impact measurement in the humanitarian sector
  • Identifying challenges related to impact measurement in the humanitarian sector and solutions to deal with these challenges
  • Recognising the marketing requirements for humanitarian organisations
  • Familiarizing students with the development of a marketing strategy for a specific donor segment


Intended Audiences / Uses

The case can be taught in various courses related to social impact, including courses on non-profit and NGO management, policy making, international health care, and social entrepreneurship.

It also covers topics relevant to classes on strategy, organisational behaviour, and marketing. The case is particularly suitable for use as an integrative and inter-disciplinary exercise, bringing together the perspectives of different groups.

The case can be taught in courses outside the domain of social impact, particularly those related to business model innovation, organisational learning, and entrepreneurship. It is suitable for undergraduate students, graduates, and executive audiences.


Visit Max Foundation website here


30 seconds Max Foundation



How to buy the case

  • Hard and soft copies of the case and teaching note (which contains the login and password to access the private area of this site) can be purchased via our distributors’ websites. To choose a distributor please visit the INSEAD Case Distributors page.
  • The case can also be purchased directly from INSEAD.
  • If you are not a registered instructor, follow the instructions on our distributors’ websites to identify yourself as such.