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If you’re looking to solve problems by scaling up a solution, you’ll likely need others to replicate it. When developing your scale strategy you need to figure out who will be doing the delivery of the solution at scale and who will be paying for the doing.

Kevin Star from Mulago Foundation summarises this simply by urging you to ask yourself two questions: 1) Who’s the doer, and 2) who’s the payer?


Grab a piece of paper or open up a Word document to write down your notes as you progress through the steps shown on the guide


Step 1

Imagine a future (say 30 years from now) where your societal problem is being addressed at scale. Is the problem completely eradicated? Or will there continue to be a need for solutions like yours?

There are two reasons why the problem might not exist anymore: 

The first is mission achievement. The problem has been eradicated and there’s no need for your solution any more. An example of this might be the Smallpox eradication campaign in the 20th century. Most problems can’t be completely eradicated – so be critical when considering whether this is possible. 

The second reason is the problem still exists but is being addressed by alternative and more sustainable means. For example a change in government policy that tackles a particular issue at a systemic level, e.g. achieving benefits reforms rather than running a food bank. 

If your problem can be solved in the future, you might not need a doer and a payer to sustain your impact.

However, if you need the solution to be delivered continuously, the questions of the doer and payer are critical for sustainable impact at scale.


Step 2

If you continue to see the need for solutions like yours, consider who could be doing the delivery at scale. 

Review the options below to identify your potential doers. Remember these approaches are not exhaustive, or mutually exclusive! 


  • You – You develop a big enough organisation to replicate at scale.
  • Government Adoption – A government delivers your solution as a part of their public sector services. 
  • Commercial Adoption – Many businesses replicate your for-profit solution.
  • Social Sector Adoption – NGO’s deliver your nonprofit solution.

Who specifically could be your doer? What part of the government? What type of business? What kind of NGO? Expand on your answer. 

Following this, add a sentence on how you imagine potential ‘doers’ might replicate your solution. 


Step 3

Consider who the payer might be for the solution to be delivered sustainability at scale. Who will be funding it on an ongoing basis?


  • Customers – Service users themselves pay enough to cover the cost of delivering the service. 
  • Philanthropy funding  – Grants and donations 
  • Government – Government is funding service delivery through taxation or Big Aid. 
  • Big Aid – Funding directly to NGOs

Your chosen payer needs to have an incentive and an ability to pay on an ongoing basis.

Typically, grants and donations are not sustainable sources of funding because they require commitment from funders to increase the more you scale.

Donations can be a helpful source of funding to bridge the gap. For instance, they can support innovation to help bring down the price-point of your solution low enough for governments or customers themselves to be able to afford it. 

Consider how far away you are from a sustainable payer at scale and how you might need to change in order to get there. Add one line about how you could go from your current funders to your payer at scale.



Step 4

Consider the role of others in the system. Who will need to play what role in order for your problem to be addressed at scale sustainably?

The table below includes examples of stakeholders you might want to consider, as well as some responsibilities that may need to be undertaken. 



Step 5

As a final step, summarise how your choice of doer and payer, as well as the role of other stakeholders, might influence your scale plans. For example: 

  • “We want government to pay for this eventually, so cost effectiveness is a big priority”
  • “To get the commercial sector on side, we should show that this can produce a profit margin”
  • “To ensure widespread social sector adoption, we need to make sure that our solution is as simple and replicable as possible.”



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