Pilot projects in South Africa have demonstrated how the institutionally innovative and very practical social franchising partnership approach can be used as an alternative approach to more commonly encountered options, for the routine maintenance of low-technology water and sanitation infrastructure. The strength of this approach is that it is built on a robust foundation of mutual support and incentives. The paper describes how franchise partners have been working with schools and municipalities to address operational issues. The Eastern Cape provincial Department of Education now has a proven model which it is rolling out to further school districts, beyond the initial pilot in the Butterworth education district. Municipalities in the area are also employing the franchisee microbusinesses to undertake maintenance services. Further opportunities lie in applying the approach to operation and/or maintenance activities within the water and sanitation services delivery chain, and thereafter extending it to other types of infrastructure (e.g. roads and electricity reticulation).