Resources   Asia

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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Bottom of the Pyramid as a source of breakthrough innovations

In this paper, I identify the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) markets as a new source of radical innovation. By focusing managerial attention on creating awareness, access, affordability, and availability (4As), managers can create an exciting environment for innovation. I suggest that external constraints can be utilized to build an ...

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Serving the low-income consumer: How to tackle this mostly ignored market

Facing saturation and cutthroat competition in long-established markets, many multinational companies are seeking new markets. Yet until recently, they have largely ignored the more than 5 billion low-income consumers, thinking these consumers have no money to spend or are impossible to reach. Now several companies are disproving these perceptions. ...

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A Nano car in every driveway? How to succeed in the ultra-low-cost car market

Henry Ford’s historic promise in 1908 to “build a car for the great multitude” resulted in the production of more than 15 million Model Ts and created unprecedented mobility for consumers everywhere. Will India’s Tata Motors deliver on its equally bold promise to a new generation of consumers to bring ...

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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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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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A new alliance for global change

Working together, corporations and social entrepreneurs can reshape industries and solve the world’s toughest problems. ...

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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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Business basics at the Base of the Pyramid

Why should business among the very poor be different than it is anywhere else? Listen to customers, standardize processes, and don't be afraid to make a profit. ...

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The Tata Nano, the global ‘value’ segment and the implications for the traditional automotive industry regions

This paper provides a case study of the Tata Nano, a low-price car designed primarily in and for the Indian market, and its implications for the developed industrial markets. While the Nano is a classic ‘disruptive’ innovation in an Indian context, this paper argues that the car and its emulators ...

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The need for safe water as a market opportunity

There is a huge unmet need across the globe for access to safe drinking water. This problem kills millions of our brethren each year—780,000 in India alone. Diarrheal disease causes 1,600 deaths a day—more than any other. While we in the U.S. and other Western nations simply turn the handle ...

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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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India’s Tata Nano, ‘the world’s cheapest car,’ struggles to move ahead

"The world's cheapest car" was a cult hit at first, but it has suffered from safety concerns and what critics call poor marketing and competition from a flood of slightly more expensive cars. ...

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Selling to the bottom of the pyramid: The case of Tata Nano

Since the term ‘‘bottom of the pyramid’’ was coined, the poor living in low- and middle-income countries have received increasing attention. The bottom of the pyramid attracts multinational companies because of its large population with spending demand, low consumer expectations and slight competition. At the beginning of 2008 Tata Motors ...

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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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Tata’s Nano Home: Company behind cheapest car to sell $7,800 apartments

Tata, the Indian company that made worldwide headlines with its $2,000 Nano car, now plans to build 1,000 tiny apartments outside Mumbai that will sell for $7,800 to $13,400 each. The company plans to roll out low-cost projects outside other major cities. Tata’s housing division is targeting a segment of ...

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Talking back! Empowerment and mobile phones in rural Bangladesh: A study of the Village Phone Scheme of Grameen Bank

The study assesses the efficacy of the Village Phone (VP) scheme in ameliorating the ‘information poverty’ of the villages that have obtained access to mobile phones in Bangladesh. More specifically, the study has sought to describe the ways in which the VP is operated, how the service is utilised and ...

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Interview: C. K. Prahalad

The renowned corporate strategist and co-author of Competing for the Future talks about his theory of co-creation, expounded in his most recent book, The Future of Competition: Co-Creating Unique Value with Customers. Interview by Des Dearlove. ...

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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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India urban Base of the Pyramid housing affordability study

With one of the largest aggregated base of the pyramid populations and wealth gaps on the planet, Indian housing provision remains in a dire state.  A distinct lack of supply side solutions has further exacerbated a massive real estate price spike in recent years and, whilst both the private and ...

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At the Bottom of the Pyramid: Responsible design for responsible business

Thoughtfully responding to the needs and aspirations of the four billion poor living at the margins of the global economy is both wise strategy and pressing obligation for businesses, argues Nimal Sethia. In this context, he identifies key stakeholders and posits knowledge, empathy, networking, and a value-frame as central to ...

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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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Book review essay: Promises and perils at the Bottom of the Pyramid: “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty through Profits” by C. K. Prahalad

C. K. Prahalad, an extremely well-known and influential business scholar and consultant, worked for years to find a new way to solve the problem of poverty…His latest book, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, captures the results of this effort. Impressively praised by the likes of Madeline Albright ...

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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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Who’s got the phone? Gender and the use of the telephone at the bottom of the pyramid

Many studies conclude that a significant gender divide in access to the telephone exists, particularly in developing countries. Furthermore, women are also said to use telephones in a different manner from men – making and receiving more calls, spending more time on calls and using telephones primarily for ‘relationship maintenance’ ...

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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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Making better investments at the Base of the Pyramid

Managers of business ventures that work with the world’s poor need more than financials and feel-good stories to measure success. They need to know exactly who’s benefiting and how. ...

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The great leap: Driving innovation from the Base of the Pyramid

Billions of poor people aspire to join the world's economy. Disruptive innovation can pave the way, helping companies combine sustainable corporate growth with social responsibility. ...

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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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Global marketing of lifesaving drugs: an analogical model

In light of the desire to bring about an increase in the global distribution of lifesaving drugs at affordable prices, the purpose of this paper is to focus on the global marketing of lifesaving drugs related to the current pandemic of HIV/AIDS. An analogical model is used to challenge companies ...

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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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The work of the New Economy: Consumers, brands and value creation

My goal in this article is to apprehend claims about person–product relationships now circulating in the world of business. I take up approaches that presuppose the embeddedness of economic action in shifting networks or assemblages of people and things (human and nonhuman actors), and that call attention to the agency ...

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Crossing the bridge to poverty, with low-cost cars

Purpose – The purpose of this study is to examine which changes companies need to implement in their transactional marketing strategy to sell to the poor when launching a product innovation in low-income countries. Design/methodology/approach – The paper confronts the literature on the "bottom of the pyramid" with the diffusion ...

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Marketing in subsistence marketplaces: consumption and entrepreneurship in a South India context

Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to discuss innovative consumer marketing approaches for simultaneous business success and social empowerment at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) or in subsistence marketplaces. Design/methodology/approach - The paper draws from a research program comprising qualitative methods as well as case study analyses. ...

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Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Limited launches firm to aid ‘bottom of pyramid’ market

Private lender Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Limited (DHFL) has launched Aadhar Housing Finance Private Limited, targetting the ‘bottom of the pyramid’ home loan space in Uttar Pradesh and other states with similar socio-economic profile. ...

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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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New Media practices in India: Bridging past and future, markets and development

This article provides a review of the academic and popular literature on new media practices in India, focusing on the country’s youth's use of mobile phones and the Internet, as well as new media prosumption. One particular feature of the Indian case is the confluence of commercial exploitation of new ...

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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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‘A living lab’: Corporate delivery of ICTs in rural India

Information and Communication technologies (ICTs) are increasingly seen as essential tools in development projects that can create new sources of income, make governments more transparent and accessible, improve education and health care, and overcome social exclusion and discrimination. To harness these potentials, multinational hi-tech corporations are forming public–private partnerships with ...

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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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On the diffusion of toilets as bottom of the pyramid innovation: Lessons from sanitation entrepreneurs

There is an emerging body of literature on product innovations for the poor at the bottom of the income pyramid. However, here is little on why delivery systems succeed or fail in this context and the present paper attempts to fill this void by examining why and how sanitation entrepreneurs ...

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The end of corporate imperialism

When large Western companies rushed to enter emerging markets 20 years ago, they were guided by a narrow and often arrogant perspective. They tended to see countries like China and India simply as targets—vast agglomerations of would-be consumers hungry for modern goods and services. C.K. Prahalad and Kenneth Lieberthal call ...

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The fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid

Low-income markets present a prodigious opportunity for the world's wealthiest companies - to seek their fortunes and bring prosperity to the aspiring poor. ...

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Is Intel better than OLPC on teaching kids at the Bottom of the Pyramid?

One of the hottest controversies around is that between Intel and the One Laptop Per Child Foundation over the best approach to educate poor children in rural villages in India, Africa, China, Latin America and the Middle East. The battle pits giant Intel, a private corporation dominant in its field ...

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Beyond the hype: Taking Business Strategy to the “Bottom of the Pyramid”

Recent studies in strategy have highlighted both the successes and failures of applying conventional perspectives in strategic management to developing markets. Within this debate, Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) strategies, aimed at exploiting high-volume, low-margins strata at the bottom of these societies, have particularly drawn interest. We critically examine the ...

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Selling out the poor

Allen L. Hammond and C.K. Prahalad's notion that "Selling to the Poor" (May/June 2004) to turn them into consumers is an "effective way of reducing poverty" is a shameless, far-fetched example of corporate "poor washing," through which an agenda for boosting profits is packaged as a poverty antidote. ...

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Reinventing strategies for emerging markets: beyond the transnational model

With established markets becoming saturated, multinational corporations (MNCs) have turned increasingly to emerging markets (EMs) in the developing world. Such EM strategies have been targeted almost exclusively at the wealthy elite at the top of the economic pyramid. Recently, however, a number of MNCs have launched new initiatives that explore ...

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Information and Communication Technologies for Development: the Bottom of the Pyramid model in practice

The currently influential model for information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D) is based on increasing the well-being of the poor through market-based solutions, and by using low-cost but advanced technologies. Using ethnographic methods, we chart out the contradictions that could arise when such a development-through-entrepreneurship model is implemented. We ...

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The market for wireless electricity: The case of India

A wireless revolution has transformed telecoms in India and in other emerging markets. The electricity market, on the other hand, remains underdeveloped. We define Wireless Electricity as renewable energy produced within a few hundred meters of the point of consumption. A wireless revolution in electricity would solve the problem of ...

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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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Romanticizing the Poor

Market solutions to poverty are very much in vogue. These solutions, which include services and products targeting consumers at the "bottom of the pyramid," portray poor people as creative entrepreneurs and discerning consumers. Yet this rosy view of poverty-stricken people is not only wrong, but also harmful. It allows corporations, ...

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The mirage of marketing to the bottom of the pyramid: How the private sector can help alleviate poverty

The BOP proposition is indeed too good to be true. It is seductively appealing, but it is riddled with fallacies. There is little glory or fortune at the bottom of the pyramid—unfortunately, it is (almost) all a mirage. This article argues that the BOP proposition is both logically flawed and ...

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Doing well by doing good – case study: ‘Fair and Lovely’ whitening cream

According to the ‘doing well by doing good’ proposition, firms have a corporate social responsibility to achieve some larger social goals, and can do so without a financial sacrifice. This research note empirically examines this proposition by studying in depth the case of ‘Fair & Lovely,’ a skin whitening cream ...

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Misfortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid

The popular ‘bottom of the pyramid’ (BOP) proposition argues that large companies can make a fortune by selling to poor people and simultaneously help eradicate poverty. This is, at best, a harmless illusion and potentially a dangerous delusion. This paper shows that the BOP argument is riddled with inaccuracies and ...

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The Fortune at the Bottom or the Middle of the Pyramid?

The Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) has emerged as a dominant concept in business, propelled by C. K. Prahalad’s The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid. Given the enormous attention the concept has attracted, it has the potential to impact the world’s billions of poor people—as well as the ...

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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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Social business enterprises – maximizing social benefits or maximising profits? The case of Grameen-Danone Foods Limited

Where the concepts of 'free markets' and 'capitalism' have been lauded to bring freedom and choice, they have been held responsible for bringing much worldwide social and economic disparity. Critics have blamed them for widespread crime, corruption and poverty. Wary of such consequences, entrepreneurs have come with an innovative solution: ...

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Digital labor is the new killer app

Research on digital labor tends to fall into idealized, oppositional binaries that are judgmental rather than based on detailed analyses of the actual system or site. Our goal in this article is to provide a view on digital labor that is grounded less in speculation but in narratives from the ...

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Instant noodles as an antifriction device: Making the BOP with PPP in PNG

Focusing primarily, but not exclusively, on urban and periurban Papua New Guinea (PNG), we discuss the significance of instant ramen noodles to those now known as the "bottom of the pyramid" (BOP). Although instant noodles are remarkable in that they are eaten by virtually everyone in the world, albeit in ...

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Anthropology at the Bottom of the Pyramid

In this article, we examine three initiatives in South India that have brought Hindustan Unilever to prominence as a pioneer of business at the bottom of the pyramid. Using corporate reports, promotional materials, business case studies, academic papers and newspaper interviews we look at a public-private partnership campaign, a school-based ...

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Innovation blowback: Disruptive management practices from Asia

Western companies think too narrowly about the emerging world. If they aren’t careful, they may end up as defenders, not attackers. ...

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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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Serving the world’s poor: innovation at the base of the economic pyramid

The market for products and services delivered to the poor people of the world is huge. Consumers at the very bottom of the economic pyramid – those with per capita incomes of less than $1,500 – number more than 4 billion. For more than a billion people – roughly one-sixth ...

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