Resources   Empowerment

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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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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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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Commentary on Michael D. Gordon’s “Management education and the Base of the Pyramid”

This commentary asks some critical questions concerning the article “Management Education and the Base of the Pyramid” included in this special issue. Are “bottom of the pyramid” (BOP) multidisciplinary action project (MAP) students prepared to critically assess the impact of their interventions beyond a narrow definition of profit in complex ...

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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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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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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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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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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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Understanding key factors in social enterprise development of the BOP: a systems approach applied to case studies in the Philippines

Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to provide a comprehensive perspective on social enterprise development, leading to enhanced understanding of the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) marketplace. Design/methodology/approach - General systems theory is applied to case studies drawn from the Philippines, enabling the authors delineate system actors and ...

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Intel Inside the Third World

Intel wants to bridge the Digital Divide and pioneer a whole new market by filling classrooms in poor countries around the world with low-cost PCs. Priced at about $320 each, the new Classmate laptops on the desks in Malinalco are still too expensive for governments in most developing countries to ...

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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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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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Rethinking the OLPC distribution: A “Bottom of the Pyramid” approach?

What would a "bottom of the pyramid" approach for the OLPC look like? While the OLPC vision is bottom-up and child-focused, their actual deployment has been top-heavy. ...

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Filipino entrepreneurs on the Internet: When social networking websites meet mobile commerce

This study explores the evolving landscape of e-commerce in the Philippines. It looks at two information and communication technology (ICT) applications that are being used innovatively by Filipinos: mobile phone-based cash systems and social networking websites to enable small entrepreneurs to venture into e-commerce. The article investigates how these two ...

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