Resources   Africa

Impact at the ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’: The role of social capital in capability development and community empowerment

Rooted in the notion of inclusive capitalism, the Bottom-of-the-Pyramid (BoP) approach argues for the simultaneous pursuit of profit and social welfare by creating markets for the poor. This idea has been both celebrated and criticized in the literature. We do neither in this paper. Instead, by leveraging insights from Amartya ...

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How the world’s 5 billion low-income consumers decide what to buy

As more companies look to develop markets for growth and profits, they continue to struggle to understand their targeted consumers: How should we tailor products and services? What are our distribution strategies? Can we build brand loyalty without interpreting cultural attitudes? Lessons learned from a small Ugandan startup will help ...

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Purchasing power at the bottom of the pyramid: differences across geographic regions and income tiers

Purpose - The purpose of this article is to examine the purchasing power at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP), i.e. of low-income consumers. Design/methodology/approach - The authors analyze secondary data on income, population, and expenditure at the BOP from different countries, and apply the buying power index (BPI) methodology ...

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Mobile money: A foundation for food security

“Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” (FAO, 1996) Let me begin by explaining that I am not a food security expert but ...

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The peanut butter debate

A new type of ready-to-use food is changing the way severe malnutrition is treated. But questions remain about how far to push its introduction—and science has a hard time providing the answer. ...

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Management education and the Base of the Pyramid

Doing business at the base of the pyramid is a topic of increasing interest to business practitioners and academics. Base of the pyramid business offers the promise of great economic gains for companies and the possibility of a powerful new approach to alleviate poverty. At the same time, it may ...

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From digital divide to digital dividend: What will it take?

One of the greatest challenges in higher education is to give billions of impoverished people access to it across the globe. The growth of information and communications technologies (ICTs) over the past decade holds great promise for meeting this challenge, yet the limited access that most of the world's population ...

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Commercial returns at the Base of the Pyramid

As the world is introduced to microfinance as a response to global poverty, public and private decision-makers run the risk of having their analysis of the industry overwhelmed by the field’s stirring capability to generate social value. Throughout the development of microfinance, the accounts of low-income men and women in ...

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Testing the limits of ‘inclusive capitalism’: A case study of the South Africa HP i-Community

In the run-up to the Millennium Development Goals of 2015, major corporations are targeted by the United Nations Global Compact and others to play an active leadership role in promoting sustainable development. Increasingly, they are encouraged to do so while pursuing profit-making business opportunities yielding social good in developing countries. ...

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The next 4 billion

In an informal suburb of Guadalajara, Mexico, a growing family is struggling to expand its small house. Help arrives from a major industrial company in the form of construction designs, credit, and as-needed delivery of materials, enabling rapid completion of the project at less overall cost. In rural Madhya Pradesh, ...

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Creating value for all: Strategies for doing business with the poor

The Growing Inclusive Markets Initiative responds to a need for better understanding of how the private sector can contribute to human development and to the Millennium Development Goals. Led by UNDP, the initiative was conceived in 2006 after the success of Unleashing Entrepreneurship: Making Business Work for the Poor—the 2004 ...

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Dialing for development

Microfinance institutions have recognized that poor people lack the capital and financial services that are necessary for economic growth and job creation. And so these organizations have started offering these services to the world's poorest people, unlocking new economic opportunities for borrowers and lenders. Yet until recently, most organizations ...

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Designing mobile money services: Lessons from M-Pesa

M-PESA, the Kenyan mobile money service, has seen exceptional growth since its introduction in March 2007. Six million customers have registered with the service, which represents nearly half the customer base of Safaricom, the mobile operator that launched M-PESA. This is a level of penetration in the mobile base that ...

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The financial inclusion assemblage: Subjects, technics, rationalities

This article introduces financial inclusion as a global assemblage of subjects, technics, and rationalities that aim to develop poor-appropriate financial products and services. Microfinance forms the foundation, but also the boundary of the assemblage, which is premised on the assumption that the 2.7 billion poor people in the world who ...

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The potential of mobile remittances for the bottom of the pyramid: Findings from emerging Asia

Purpose – This paper aims to explore the extent to which low-income migrant workers in emerging Asia are aware of and are likely to use mobile phones for remitting money to family members at home. Design/methodology/approach – Data were obtained through a survey of 1,500+ local and overseas migrant workers ...

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Marketing technological innovation to LDCs: Lessons from one laptop per child

If the criterion for success were admiration for an innovative concept, the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project would be an unqualified triumph. The project, which sought to put laptop computers into the hands of tens of millions of children in the developing world, attracted early funding from Google, AMD, ...

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Aid is not the answer

There is an inherent paradox in the debate about poverty alleviation that escapes even the most sophisticated observers in the West. Consider the conventional thinking about China and India: They are seen as a threat to the West. The fear is not only about "exporting well paying U.S. jobs" but ...

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Overcoming institutional distance: Expansion to base-of-the-pyramid markets

The paper assesses the international expansion of developed-country multinationals to base-of-the-pyramid markets to launch new-to-the-world product innovations. The case study, of Philips Lighting, uses an international-business framework on the transferability and development of capabilities during international expansion. Institutional distance limits transferability from developed-country markets to base-of-the-pyramid markets; heterogeneity limits transferability ...

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Serving the world’s poor, profitably

Improving the lives of the billions of people at the bottom of the economic pyramid is a noble endeavour. It can also be a lucrative one. ...

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The quest for the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid: potential and challenges

Purpose - The purpose of this article is to examine the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) proposition, where private companies can both be profitable and help alleviate poverty by attending low-income consumers. Design/methodology/approach - The literature on BOP was reviewed and some key elements of the BOP approach were proposed ...

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Creating mutual value: Lessons learned from ventures serving base of the pyramid producers

The base of the pyramid (BoP) literature is grounded in the proposition of mutual value creation, an important but not yet well-tested relationship between business development and poverty alleviation. This paper begins to address this gap by assessing how business ventures serving BoP producers address local constraints and create mutual ...

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The next four billion: market size and business strategy at the base of the pyramid

Four billion low-income consumers, a majority of the world’s population, constitute the base of the economic pyramid. New empirical measures of their aggregate purchasing power and their behavior as consumers suggest significant opportunities for market-based approaches to better meet their needs, increase their productivity and incomes, and empower their entry ...

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“Making Markets Work for the Poor”: An objective and an approach for governments and development agencies

Governments and development agencies’ efforts at promoting economic growth and poverty reduction have achieved mixed results. Different approaches have been tried – some have aimed at major regulatory reform and others intervened to deliver products and services directly and "get things done" – with great achievements in some countries countered ...

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Calculated impact

Corporations, governments, and even people on the street routinely weigh the benefits and costs of their decisions, so why don't philanthropists? By estimating the social return on their investments, funders can deploy their dollars more effectively. To demonstrate the power of these calculations, the authors show how three organizations-the Robin ...

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Youth, waste and work in Mathare: whose business and whose politics?

In Nairobi’s Mathare Valley, one of the largest and oldest informal settlements in East Africa, waste has become a source of income generation for youth and a means of asserting slum dwellers’ rights to the city. While waste management has become a platform for engaging with the broader politics of ...

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The Slow Race: Making technology work for the poor

Citizen engagement is vital to ensure that science and technology respond to the challenges of international development. ...

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Enterprise solutions to poverty: Opportunities and challenges for the international development community and big business

The modern world has always encompassed extremes of affluence and poverty. But in 2005 the confluence of advocacy, political serendipity and natural disaster has rapidly pushed the plight of the impoverished up the agenda of the wealthy as never before. The sharpness of the challenge being thrown down on ...

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Taking Prahalad high-tech: The emergence and evolution of global corporate citizenship in the IT industry

In this paper, I analyse the emergence and evolution of e-Inclusion, HP’s flagship global corporate citizenship programme, as a landmark in the history of corporate citizenship in the IT industry. This programme, which existed from 2000 to 2005, was the first explicit attempt by a major high-tech company to operationalise ...

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Best practices for developing a solar home lighting system market

Access to electricity and home lighting are considered essential for a higher quality of life. Approximately 1.4 billion people rely on fuel-based lighting for home illumination. Thus, it has been argued, a substantial market exists for affordable home lighting products. Solid state lighting is a technology that can be employed ...

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Global village vs. small town: Understanding networks at the Base of the Pyramid

We compare and contrast business networks at the Base of the Pyramid (BOP) and at the Top of the Pyramid (TOP), and analyze their implications for multinational enterprises (MNEs). We first identify the specificities of BOP environments in terms of competitive environment and institutions. Building on this analysis, we develop ...

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Bioexpectations: Life technologies as humanitarian goods

Expectations that people should live—even under extreme conditions of crisis, neglect, and poverty—now combine with doubts about the capacity of states to provide for their populations. One result has been a set of technologies built around minimalist forms of care. Created by a heterogeneous movement of corporations as well as ...

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Segmenting the Base of the Pyramid

To succeed, you’ll need to link your commercial interests with your constituencies’ well-being. ...

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Consumption, technology, and development: The “poor” as “consumer”

This article focuses on the case of M-PESA mobile payments service in Kenya. It critically analyzes the assumptions and cultural contradictions that underpin notions of the low-income consumer and their implications in practice for business strategy. The poor-as-consumer model assumes that, in order to target low-income groups, one needs to ...

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Better vision for the Poor

Estimates for the number of poor people worldwide who need eyeglasses are startling. The World Health Organization reports approximately 517 million people in developing countries are visually impaired because they do not have access to corrective treatment. The Centre for Vision in the Developing World at Oxford University has a ...

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Is the Bottom of the Pyramid really for you?

Searching for that pot of gold in the world’s most challenging markets may not be worth your company’s while. Here’s how to make that call. ...

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Solar electrification and social change in Kenya

Market-based rural electrification with solar energy is increasingly common in developing countries. This article revolves around three main claims about solar electrification in Kenya’s unsubsidized market: (1) The benefits of solar electrification are captured primarily by the rural middle class. (2) Solar electricity plays a modest role in supporting economically ...

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The problematics of the “Bottom of the Pyramid” approach to international development: The case of micro-entrepreneurs’ use of mobile phones in Morocco

Over the past decade a significant philosophical shift has taken place in the development world, emphasizing privatization, market participation, microfinance, and other approaches to poverty alleviation over top-down, statist interventions. At the same time, some of the claims and results associated with such programs have met with pointed critiques. This ...

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Developing native capability

Today multinational corporations (MNCs) find themselves on the horns of a dilemma. With the unprecedented performance of stocks over much of recent history as a backdrop, their shareholders now expect double-digit returns, yet the global economy limps along at an annual average rate of growth of only 2%-3%. The question ...

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Selling to the Poor

Searching for new customers eager to buy your products? Forget Tokyo’s schoolgirls and Milan’s fashionistas. Instead, try the world’s 4 billion poor people, the largest untapped consumer market on Earth. To reach them, CEOs must shed old concepts of marketing, distribution, and research. Getting it right can both generate big ...

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Oxymoron no more: The potential of nonprofit drug companies to deliver on the promise of medicines for the developing world

Although some pharmaceutical company efforts to develop and distribute drugs in developing countries have been successful, many fall short of meeting needs in resource-poor nations. In the context of public-private partnerships, we discuss the concept of a nonprofit pharmaceutical company dedicated to developing and distributing drugs for diseases endemic in ...

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Lipstick evangelism: Avon trading circles and gender empowerment in South Africa

Increasing numbers of corporations are vying to capture one of the largest untapped consumer markets – the world’s poor –/ in ways that are not only economically profitable but socially responsible. One type of initiative that has gained increased traction is trading partnerships between multinational corporations and women’s ...

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Re-siting corporate responsibility: The making of South Africa’s Avon entrepreneurs

The bottom-of-the-pyramid (BOP) approach is championed as a way to deliver both corporate profits and poverty reduction. This article explores how “the poor” are repurposed as the instruments of ethical capitalism through the archetypal BOP model—Avon Cosmetics. A harbinger of “compassionate capitalism,” Avon has long stylized its entrepreneurial opportunity as ...

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Market-minded development

Over the past nine years, Acumen has deployed $48.6 million across 50 investments (35 of which are active) in the health, energy, housing, agriculture, and water industries in East Africa, India, and Pakistan. Its global health portfolio is the largest, accounting for roughly 55% of the fund. The nonprofit ...

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The Janus face of insurance in South Africa: From costs to risk, from networks to bureaucracies

This study examines the consequences of the rapid and unprecedented expansion of insurances for the poor in South Africa. Over the last ten years, South African insurance companies established a myriad of policies in order to incorporate the previously excluded, mostly African, poor and lower middle classes. While poverty, violence ...

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Good business makes poor customers good customers

Would your company like to add thousands, if not millions, of new customers? Jamie Anderson, Martin Kupp and Sandra Vandermerwe believe that serving the world’s poorest people in developing markets can be both profitable and socially rewarding — if it’s done right. As it turns out, what’s good for business ...

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