Waste Concern in Dhaka: Scaling a Model for Urban Waste Management

By Steven Callander, Joseph Golden, Blake Kavanaugh
2021 | Case No. P104 | Length 18 pgs.
In March 2006, Iftekhar Enayetullah and Abu Hasnat Md. Maqsood Sinha, the cofounders of Waste Concern, a social enterprise based in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and focused on developing innovative waste management solutions for cities in emerging Asia, faced their biggest challenge yet: scaling up their organization’s activities and impact. The previous fall, working with a Dutch recycling firm, Waste Concern had secured approval from the United Nations and the Bangladeshi government for two projects under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism, a policy program designed to spur infrastructure investments in emerging countries that would help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. To move forward with the projects, Waste Concern also required access to the Matuail landfill, which was owned and operated by the Dhaka City Corporation, the city government of Bangladesh’s capital. But despite the projects’ obvious benefits to Dhaka and Waste Concern’s lobbying of key local officials for months, the DCC still had not granted its permission, and it was unclear whether the DCC ever would. The clock was ticking for Enayetullah and Sinha. Was there a way to persuade the DCC to provide access to the landfill so that Waste Concern could pursue the two CDM projects at Matuail as planned? Or would the social entrepreneurs be better off taking a different path to scale Waste Concern’s efforts to address urban waste management and global climate change?

Learning Objective

The primary objective of this case is to help students understand why and how entrepreneurs often need to engage with public-sector officials at multiple levels of government in order to complete projects and/or expand the scope of their activities within cities. In addition, students will examine how models of public administration and local governance that work in many municipalities across the advanced world may or may not apply to the unique political, social, and economic contexts of cities in emerging countries. Finally, students will learn about the advantages and disadvantages of various urban waste management techniques.
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