More and more enterprises are seeking to craft winning "base of the pyramid" (BoP) ventures, serving the world's four billion poorest customers while alleviating poverty at the same time. Early first-generation ventures focused primarily on selling products to this massive and growing under-served market. Many of these initiatives did not scale, and some have failed. Crucial lessons have been learned along the way, and innovators are now succeeding with a more sophisticated and nuanced approach to "BoP." These second-generation business strategies have remained invisible to many leaders in the for-profit, non-profit, and development communities--until now. In this book, Ted London, Stuart L. Hart, and nine leading BoP thought and practice leaders show how to apply today's most significant BoP innovations, techniques, and business models. London, Hart, and their contributors go beyond providing low-cost products and extending distribution reach, demonstrating how to promote market development, innovation, and capability creation "with" BoP new customers, not "at" them. Readers will learn how to reconceptualize their opportunities, create sustainable business ecosystems, design new technologies with BoP in mind, and even transform entire sectors through collaborative entrepreneurship. From start to finish, this book shares proven, "on-the-ground" insights for building scalable, profitable businesses that are sustainable, and truly can help alleviate social ills.
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“Anyone interested in the challenges and opportunities faced by the low-income people must read this well-researched book. At a time when intellectual discourse on this important topic is urgently needed, London’s and Hart’s book combines a wealth of experience in the corporate setting with a deep understanding of economics. Needless to say, we are in the midst of multiple global crises threatening the well-being of all. This book is an attempt to give capitalism new strategies for responding to those crises.”
--Muhammad Yunus, Head of Grameen
“This book demonstrates that the most socially useful business models to serve the Base of the Pyramid are those which are created for the market they seek to serve, incorporating appropriate green technologies and innovation-oriented strategies in venture development. Such ventures can go on to achieve the higher purpose of BoP businesses: poverty alleviation.”
--Ratan Tata, CEO, Tata Industries
“More than a decade ago, C.K. Prahalad and others first opened our eyes to the huge opportunities inherent in Base of the Pyramid markets. This book captures the thinking of the last 10 years and confirms that those opportunities are greater than ever. As such, it is a fitting tribute to Prahalad and his fellow pioneers--and an essential read for anyone wishing to understand and capitalize upon the real potential of BoP marketplaces.”
--Paul Polman, Chief Executive, Unilever
“A crucial and most creative re-framing of the BoP debate: The authors look at the world’s poor not just as four billion more consumers, but also as a source of talented entrepreneurs--potential business partners ready to enter the formal economy to put their assets to work and lift themselves, and their countries, out of poverty.”
--Hernando de Soto, Institute for Liberty and Democracy
“The Base of the Pyramid is a big breakthrough idea that risked being captured as the new conventional wisdom. This clever book by scholars and practitioners averts that by taking the deeply original insight to the next stage. A fitting tribute to C.K. Prahalad.”
--Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, Former Administrator, United Nations Development Programme
“Ted London’s and Stuart Hart’s insightful book explores with a fresh lens the challenges facing the economies and communities of the BoP, and offers long-term solutions based on joint value-creation rather than ‘fortune-seeking.’ Today’s businesses must engage with these communities on a deeper level, to ensure equal understanding of the culture’s needs, how to educate BoP business owners, and to uncover ways to move forward--with sustainability as a top priority. This book makes an invaluable contribution to that end.”
--Fisk Johnson, CEO, S.C. Johnson
During the last decade, first-generation “Base of the Pyramid” (BoP) ventures focused primarily on “finding a fortune at the BoP“ by selling existing goods to and sourcing familiar products from the world’s four billion poorest people. Many of these initiatives did not scale, and some failed outright. But through that experience, crucial lessons have been learned. Innovators are now succeeding--thanks to a more sophisticated and nuanced approach based on “creating a fortune with the BoP.”
In this book, co-editors Ted London, Stuart L. Hart, and other leading BoP thought and practice leaders show how to apply these second-generation BoP innovations, techniques, and business models. You’ll learn how to build successful business ventures, create sustainable business ecosystems, design new technologies with the BoP in mind, and even transform entire sectors through collaborative entrepreneurship. Key lessons to be learned include
Roadmaps for Success
• A roadmap for venture development
• Patient capital and innovation for the BoP
• The “Green Leap” and the BoP
• Turning BoP needs into markets
• Understanding the BoP at the micro level
• Reframing design for the BoP
• Scaling up BoP ventures
About the Author:
Ted London, co-editor, is a Senior Research Fellow at the William Davidson Institute (WDI) and a member of the faculty at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. At WDI, he directs the Base of the Pyramid Initiative, a program that champions innovative ways of thinking about more inclusive forms of capitalism. At the Ross School, he lectures on the opportunities and challenges inherent in developing new business models to serve BoP markets. An internationally recognized expert on the intersection of business strategy and poverty alleviation, London focuses his research on designing enterprise strategies and poverty-alleviation approaches for low-income markets, developing capabilities for new market entry, building cross-sector collaborations, and assessing the poverty-reduction outcomes of business ventures. His numerous articles, chapters, reports, and cases emphasize creating new knowledge with actionable implications. His article, “Making Better Investments at the Base of the Pyramid,” (Harvard Business Review, 2009), for example, offers a pioneering perspective on listening to the voices of the world’s poor to enhance mutual value creation. Over the past two decades, London has also directed and advised dozens of leadership teams in the corporate, non-profit, and development sectors on designing and implementing market-based strategies in low-income markets. Prior to his arrival at the University of Michigan, London served on the faculty at the University of North Carolina, where he also received his Ph.D. in strategic management. Before that, he held senior management positions in the private, non-profit, and development sectors in Africa, Asia, and the U.S.
Stuart L. Hart, co-editor, is the Samuel C. Johnson Chair in Sustainable Global Enterprise and Professor of Management at Cornell University’s Johnson School of Management. He also serves as Distinguished Fellow at the William Davidson Institute (University of Michigan) and is Founder and President of Enterprise for a Sustainable World. Hart is one of the world’s top authorities on the implications of environment and poverty for business strategy. He has published more than 70 papers and authored or edited seven books with over 5,000 Google Scholar citations in all. His article “Beyond Greening: Strategies for a Sustainable World” won the McKinsey Award for Best Article in the Harvard Business Review for 1997 and helped launch the movement for corporate sustainability. With C.K. Prahalad, Hart also wrote the path-breaking 2002 article “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid,” which provided the first articulation of how business could profitably serve the needs of the four billion poor in the developing world. His best-selling book, Capitalism at the Crossroads, published in 2005, was selected by Cambridge University as one of the top 50 books on sustainability of all time; the third edition of the book was published in 2010.
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