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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Happy Third Birthday, NextBillion

By Rob Katz

Happy BirthdayAccording to the National Network for Child Care, a typical three year-old is "full of wonder and spends a lot of time watching, observing, and imitating. Their days are filled with busy exploration of their world."? Yesterday, on the occasion of NextBillion.net's third birthday, I found myself reflecting on this description ? and wondering if it applies to our community as it would a child.

We are certainly busy exploring our base of the pyramid world ? a world that itself has grown leaps and bounds since the site's initial launch.? I remember when we could go weeks without posting a relevant mainstream news story related to BoP; now, we post two or three per day.? When NextBillion got started, "next billion" wasn't in the business or development lexicon.? Now, influential actors from the Boston Consulting Group to Microsoft to the World Bank have adopted the term to signify the next billion people to rise from the base of the pyramid, and the next billion in profits for businesses that strive to fill market gaps by integrating the BoP into healthy economies.The mainstreaming of 'base of the pyramid' and 'next billion' has come about as our community has matured.? There are now hundreds of blogs, web sites, wikis and other resources dedicating column inches to the concept of business-driven approaches to poverty.? On our site, we have recruited a team of talented staff writers from around the world to guide the conversation, and regularly receive thoughtful comments from hundreds of different readers.? The conversation started back in 2005, and it has only grown in sophistication and depth since (at least, that's how I'd like to think about it!)

As NextBillion.net enters its fourth year, exciting things lie in store.? World Resources Institute and Acumen Fund recently finalized a partnership to co-own and co-manage the site, demonstrating a commitment to the sector at large and not just one institution's agenda.? Derek, Francisco and I will be working hard this summer to manage our content flow while re-designing much of the front and back ends of NextBillion.? These changes will make it easier for writers and editors, but frankly, they are really all about our readers and commenters.

Which brings me to my last, and most important point: thank you.? To our readers, commenters and contributors, that is.? At the end of the day, you are driving the conversations - not just on NextBillion - but in the corporate boardroom, the classrooms, at development conferences and in the cafes.? You are pushing the BoP into the mainstream and onto the agenda - through these discussions, you are helping to accelerate solutions to the unmet needs of the next four billion.

Here's to the next 3 years...
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