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Urban Spring: Building a Sustainable Social Enterprise

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Urban Spring is a successful social enterprise. Every day, people in Hong Kong buy around 2.5 million bottles of water. Until Urban Spring marketed its award-winning high tech Well water fountains, most plastic containers were sent to landfill, adding hazardous chemicals to the environment.

Urban Spring’s founder has made it his mission is to reduce the city’s plastic waste and to encourage people to take a more sustainable approach to bottled water. By providing consumers with clean chilled water – free of charge, 24/7, Urban Spring has replaced more than 5.28 million plastic bottles, which would otherwise have been sent to landfill.

Led by its CEO, Ada Yip, the Urban Spring design team created a fountain that is monitored remotely for hygiene, water quality, and data collection. Units are leased to corporations, hotels, schools and learning institutions. With its second-generation fountains ready for release, the company now needs to make crucial decisions about its future expansion and potential partnerships.


Learning Objective:

This case describes the motivational processes through which ethical leadership promotes behavioral changes in an organization and within a community. The social enterprise promotes the following:

  • A green and sustainable urban lifestyle
  • Sustainable cities and communities
  • Ethical leadership

This case can be used in teaching both undergraduate and postgraduate-level students in the study of entrepreneurship, non-profit management, and organizational development.

At the completion of the class, students will be able to:

  1. Create a sustainable business model for a social venture or social enterprise by replicating the process of creating a business model canvas
  2. Explore the opportunities and challenges facing a start-up social enterprise or social venture
  3. Identify and understand the key differences between the operations of a social enterprise, a social venture, and a charity.


Year of Publication: 2021
Ref. No.: 20/676C
Discipline: Organizational Behavior and Leadership, Social Enterprises & Ethics
Industry: Food, Beverage & Tobacco
Country: Hong Kong SAR
Company: Urban Spring
Languages: English
Pages of Text: 10