I have to admit, when I first encountered Karnani’s initial critique of BoP, entitled ?Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: A Mirage? I was beside myself with excitement. Although I had read much of NextBillion’s content with interest and hope, I couldn?t help but wonder, ?Where is the other side of the debate?? Karnani introduced a dissenting opinion, which is invaluable. However, Karnani’s use of inductive reasoning via case study method, while illustrative, limits the degree to which his assertions are generalizable.
As a result, I’ve decided to dedicate my blogging activities to constructing, facilitating and fomenting (heavy emphasis on the latter), a multi-faceted debate. I truly believe that BOP business development is on to something. But defining that ?something? is a continual process to which I intend to contribute. Right now, the ?who, what, where, why and how? of BOP thinking is coming into focus, due in no small part to the work of your friendly neighborhood NextBillionaires. What I’d like to explore are alternate forms of those questions: ?What for, who for, why so, and how the heck is that possible, really??
?How will you do that?? you ask. Great question! I knew that you readers were a smart bunch. There are several questions that I’d like to tackle over the course of this blogquest, but I am not foolhardy enough to believe that I have the answers. That’s where you come in. Each week I will pose a question and attempt (note the word ATTEMPT) to answer it. I welcome those of you who have an opinion, an insight, a complaint, or a completely random yet witty comment, to chime in. With no further ado, the questions are as follows. Let’s get ready to rumble.
- How do you define success in the BoP? Increase in GDP per capita? Access to $3600 plasma TVs? Winning the Millennium Challenge??
- How do you quantify it? Are the benefits of BOP regarding MNC profitability, environmentally sustainable technologies, scalable, replicable business models real? New technologies for environmental sustainability, new business models, etc.?
- To produce or to consume? That is the question, now what is the answer? Can the consumption element of BOP really contribute to the reduction of poverty?
- Is BOP MNC neocolonialism all over again? Will MNCs behave differently in this space than they have in the past? Can power be successfully decentralized and distributed?
- Must there be a trade-off between doing well and ?doing good?? How close does BOP come to closing that gap?
- What skill sets are critically needed in BOP business development? Consumer insight? Operations management? Investment management?
- Where does BOP fit along the public/private sector continuum? Does CSR, PPP, social enterprise, social entrepreneurship, venture philanthropy = BOP
- Is this really about devising a hybrid system that works better for everyone?
So now you all know that I am a masochist. Pity me. But really, it’s up to you to help me sift through the intellectual quagmire that I’ve created. Tune in next week as I stare down question #1. Given the recent release of WRI’s report, ?The Next 4 Billion: Market Size and Business Strategy at the Base of the Pyramid
?, are you really surprised by the choice of topic?
Until next time?