Business, Technology and the Poor
Edited by Prabhu Kandachar and Minna Halme
September 2008 xii + 532 pp 234 x 156 mm
hardback ISBN 978-1-906093-11-2 £50.00
"This wonderful collection of essays ... a rich set of contributions by a diverse set of highly qualified authors ... between these covers lie many answers, but also a host of new and important questions regarding the promising new approach to sustainable development called the Base of the Pyramid."
Stuart L. Hart
Buy this title together with Make Poverty Business: Increase Profits and Reduce Risks by Engaging with the Poor and save £26.95/€42/$50.
Around the turn of the millennium it had become painfully evident that development aid, charity or ‘global business-as-usual’ were not going to be the mechanisms to alleviate global poverty. Today, there is little dispute that poverty remains the most pressing global problem calling for innovative solutions. One recent strategy is the Base of the Pyramid (BoP) concept developed by Prahalad and Hart, which relies on entrepreneurial activity tapping into the previously ignored markets of the economically most disadvantaged. It is a process requiring innovations in several disciplines: technological, social and business.
This book covers a number of areas. First, much of the current BoP discussion emphasises targeting products to the needs of the poor. But do we actually know what the real needs of the poor are? This book takes a bottom-up human-centred approach and examines examples that truly engage the poor in BoP product and service development. What types of needs assessment methodologies are indicated considering the cultural differences in BoP countries? Are the existing methodologies adequate? Do they need to be redefined and redeveloped?
Second, the book considers how we can balance poverty alleviation and stimulate economic growth without stressing the ecosystem. Tragically, the poor are hardest hit by the adverse effects of environmental deterioration such as water shortages, climate change or the destruction of habitats. While the economic welfare of the poor is critical, the BoP approach must balance its inherent paradox of encouraging greater consumption while avoiding further pressures on environmental sustainability. The link between the BoP approach and sustainable development is a key feature of this book.
Third, it looks at innovation and asks what kinds of ‘bottom-up’ innovation (open source, technological, social and business) support BoP initiatives (and sustainable development)?
Fourth, the book deals with the relationship between development assistance and BoP. Is a BoP strategy the antithesis to development aid or can these two co-exist or even complement each other?
Finally, the book raises questions about the relationship between corporate responsibility and BoP. Is BoP a new form of corporate neo-colonialism or a new form of corporate responsibility?
Although the BoP concept has unleashed an extensive and generally
enthusiastic response from academics, businesses, NGOs and governments, the
knowledge domain around this concept is still in the early stages of
development. This book addresses that need with a focus on the needs of the
end-users — the poor — as a starting point for BoP products and
innovations. With contributions from both supporters and critics, it provides a
treasure trove of global knowledge on how the concept has developed, what its
successes and failures have been and what promise it holds as a long-term
strategy for alleviating poverty and tackling global
The Environmentalist 89 (7 December 2009)
In summary, it appears that building BoP businesses that create enduring and
sustainable community value requires an entirely new strategic process and
corporate capability. This wonderful collection of essays assembled by Prabhu
Kandachar and Minna Halme addresses virtually all of the challenges to realising
this opportunity — and more. In the pages that follow, you will find a rich set
of contributions by a diverse set of highly qualified authors. Indeed, between
these covers lie many answers, but also a host of new and important questions
regarding the promising new approach to sustainable development called the Base
of the Pyramid.
Stuart L. Hart
The international conference "Sustainable Innovations at the Base of the
Pyramid" was held at the Helsinki School of Economics, 26-27 September
2008, where this book was launched. The majority of the conference presentations
are available here:
The Helsinki conference also attracted some international
Read an interview with co-editor Prabhu Kandachar here:
Introduction. Farewell to pyramids: how can business and technology help to eradicate poverty?
Prabhu Kandachar, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, and Minna Halme, Helsinki School of Economics, Finland
Part I. Inclusive markets and BoP strategies
1. Understanding the markets of the poor: a market system approach to inclusive business models
Christina Gradl, Emergia Institute/Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Germany, and Sahba Sobhani, Afke Bootsman and Austine Gasnier, United Nations Development Programme
2. Lights on or trade off? Can base-of-the-pyramid approaches deliver solutions to energy poverty?
Emma Wilson, Business and Sustainable Development Programme, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), Lyuba Zarsky, Monterey Institute for International Studies, Brian Shaad, Partnerships in Development, Ltd, and Ben Bundock, freela
Part II. Local enterprises at the BoP: cooperative efforts
3. WIZZIT: mobile banking for the poor in South Africa
Brian Richardson and Nicolas Callegari, WIZZIT South Africa
4. The GP Community Information Centre: helping the poor through technology
A.H.M. Sultanur Reza, Head of Community Information Centre, Grameenphone, Bangladesh
5. Edenor SA: energy and development for the base of the pyramid
Miguel Angel Gardetti, Centre for Study of Corporate Sustainability, Argentina; Argentina Base of the Pyramid Learning Lab, and Ma Griselda Lassaga, Centre for Study of Corporate Sustainability, Argentina
6. Pro-poor enterprises and the base of the pyramid concept: learning from natural plant product ventures in South Africa
Cori Ham and Wolfgang Thomas, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
7. Integrating poverty reduction and environmental protection among BoP producers: Van Chang craft village in Vietnam
Nonita T. Yap, University of Guelph, Canada
8. The challenges and opportunities of creating sustainable shared values at the base of the pyramid: cases from sub-Saharan Africa
Samuel Petros Sebhatu, CTF; Service Research Centre, Karlstad University
9. SEWA members: wheels of the pyramid. A case study
Reema Nanavaty, Self Employed Women’s Association, India
10. Reutilisation of glass residues and social and environmental sustainability in Brasília
Adriana Villela, Leila Chalub Martins, Maria de Fatima Makiuchi and Donald Sawyer, University of Brasilia, Brazil
11. Sustainable solid waste management using a base-of-the-pyramid approach
John Stutz, Tellus Institute, USA
12. Small is beautiful: solar product and market development should be scaled to the actual needs of end-users in the developing world
K.M. Arkesteijn and A.E. Maaskant, Free Energy Europe, The Netherlands, and P. Steemers, Umeme Jua Ltd
Part III. Are BoP consumers and citizens included?
13. Consumer integration into innovation processes: a new approach for creating and enhancing innovations for the base of the pyramid (BoP)?
Aline Krämer and Frank-Martin Belz, Technische Universität München, Germany
14. Research methods for subsistence marketplaces
Madhu Viswanathan, Roland Gau and Avinish Chaturvedi, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
15. Investments at the base of the pyramid: reducing poverty through sustainable asset development
Janet Boguslaw, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University, USA, and Mary Ellen Boyle, Clark University Graduate School of Management, USA
Part IV. Capabilities, opportunities and challenges for developing
BoP business by MNCs
16. Empowering creativity: a design-led innovation experience based on value co-creation and user insights
Simona Rocchi and Yasushi Kusume, Philips Design, The Netherlands
17. Affordable communication for rural communities
Mika Skarp and Raj Bansal, Nokia Siemens Networks, and Raimo Lovio and Minna Halme, Helsinki School of Economics, Finland
18. Understanding business models at the BOP: lessons learned from two South American utility companies
Juliana Mutis, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), and Joan Enric Ricart, IESE Business School, University of Navarra, Spain
19. Finding value and sustainability at the base of the pyramid
Naomi Wynburne and Rosalind Wilson, Emerging Markets Group (EMG) Ltd
20. Fortifying the business model: the case of Tetra Pak and the Nasarawa State school feeding programme in Nigeria
Aileen Ionescu-Somers and Ulrich Steger, Forum for Corporate Sustainability Management, IMD
21. Building dynamic capabilities for the base of the pyramid: a closer look at firm practices
Patrick Vermeulen, Judith Bertisen and Jac Geurts, Tilburg University, The Netherlands
22. Opportunities and challenges for multinational corporations at the base of the pyramid
Christine Keating and Tara Schmidt, London Business School, UK
Part V. Sustainability challenges and solutions
23. Transforming innovation and development practice in the Global South? Myths, realities, and the prospects for base-of-the-pyramid approaches
James T. Murphy, Clark University, USA
24. The environmental (un)sustainability of the base-of-the-pyramid (BoP) philosophy: a governance perspective
Frank Wijen, Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, The Netherlands
25. Sustainable development at the BOP: on integrated approaches beyond trade-off thinking
Rüdiger Hahn, Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Germany
26. When CSR Met BoP: ethical concerns at the base of the pyramid
D. Kirk Davidson, Mount St Mary’s University, USA
27. Towards ‘Human Development through the Market’: a comparative review of business approaches benefiting low-income markets from a sustainable consumption and production perspective
Burcu Tunçer, Fisseha Tessema, Martin Herrndorf and Nadine Pratt, UNEP/Wuppertal Institute Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP), Germany, and Martin Herrndorf, University of St Gallen, Switzerland
Prabhu Kandachar is Professor of Industrial Design Engineering with a focus on Sustainable Materials and Manufacturing Technology, and Chairman of the Department of Design Engineering, at the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering (IDE), Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands. He received his BE degree in Mechanical Engineering at the Mysore University, and ME degree and PhD in Mechanical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India. After a stint of five years (since 1975) at the Materials Science and Technology department at Delft, he worked for 15 years for Fokker Aerospace, in various technical and management positions. His teaching and research interests at IDE are focused on materialising design ideas. Additionally, he is extensively involved in designing products and services for the emerging markets, with many action-oriented projects in the last few years. There are about 90 publications on his work.
Minna Halme is an associate professor at Helsinki School of Economics. Her current research focuses on business models for sustainable services, sustainability implications of the base-of-the-pyramid (BoP) approach and corporate responsibility. She has worked in a number of European and national research projects on material efficiency services to industry, sustainable household services, sustainable tourism and sustainable business strategies. She has published in Ecological Economics, Business Strategy and the Environment, Journal of Management Studies, Business Ethics Quarterly, Scandinavian Journal of Management and in a number of other journals. She teaches Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management at masters’, doctoral and executive MBA courses.