Scott Anderson

Building a Fortune With the BoP: A Video Interview with Ted London

“The way we frame the opportunities and challenges in front of us matters. In fact, it can be one of our most important choices. When we rely on an established framing, our ideas generally evolve in linear, incremental, and increasingly predictable ways. But when we use a new lens on an old problem, we allow creativity back into the process, and this can enable us to make major leaps forward.”

So begins Next Generation Business Strategies for the Base of the Pyramid, a new book co-edited by Ted London, Senior Fellow at the William Davidson Institute and University of Michigan Professor; and Stuart Hart, Chair in Sustainable Global Enterprise and Professor of Management at Cornell University’s Johnson School of Management. If BoP was a piece of music, then this book aims to transform it from an analog to a digital format.

Most of the thinking around BoP over the course of the last decade was shaped into the mold of how one (a corporation, an investor, an entrepreneur) makes money at the base of the pyramid. A decade after the concept was first floated and myriad businesses have launched with this view of BoP business as a guiding principle, London and Hart are challenging us to consider building a fortune with the BoP.

On its face, the distinction sounds subtle. Yet, as London, Hart and the six other writers, including Jacqueline Novogratz, CEO of Acumen Fund; and Allen Hammond, Entrepreneur in Residence at Ashoka; explain, the idea of “fortune finding” versus “fortune creating” has substantial and long-ranging implications for how these businesses are conceived, funded and ultimately operate.

For more on the book and how it came together, check out this recent interview I did with Ted. We’ll have more reviews on various chapters within the book throughout the month of December.