Rob Katz

Morning Roundup: Development Outreach, Aravind and Mumbai’s Street Vendors

Development OutreachA quick tour through my RSS feeds yielded some very rich content today.? Here’s a brief overview:

The latest issue of Development Outreach has come out.? The magazine, published by the World Bank Institute, straddles the line between academic publication and public interest periodical (that’s a long-winded way of saying that it’s readable but full of serious content).The June 2008 issue of Development Outreach is subtitled “Business and Poverty: Opening Markets to the Poor” and features a number of worthwhile articles written by names familiar to BoP aficionados.? To begin with, the opening guest editorial is co-authored by V. Kasturi Rangan, a Harvard Business School professor who has been pushing BoP curriculum and research aggressively for the past few years.?

Other pieces feature BoP business in action, including features on Project Shakti (again?) and Patrimonio Hoy (these examples are beginning to get old – no?).? Despite some business-as-usual content, Development Outreach is worth reading.?

(Full disclosure: I have an article in this issue – co-authored with Al Hammond, Bill Kramer, Courtland Walker and Julia Tran – based on The Next 4 Billion: Market Size and Business Strategy at the Base of the Pyramid.)

In other news, NextBillion ally Aman Bhandari points out that Aravind Eye Hospital has been awarded the prestigious Global Health Council Gates Award for 2008.? He says it best:

I was thrilled to hear that Aravind won the 2008 Global Health Council Gates Award. We were very fortunate to receive a fellowship to go to Aravind in the summer of 2004 and that is where our interest in innovation and health really became solidified and this is eventually what led to the creation of this blog. The folks at Aravind (which includes Aurolab) are truly remarkable people; this award is well deserved.

Aravind was also an early Acumen Fund investment; we’re equally thrilled to hear that they’ve been recognized by such a high-profile organization (and the $1 million prize doesn’t hurt either).

Finally, Sagar Gubbi over at Social Edge has a great post up today about Mumbai’s informal economy and the importance of street vendors as sources of BoP market data.? I have been having issues with the permalink to the post, but it shows up in my RSS reader, and I will excerpt from it here:

I personally feel that there is a lot to be learnt from these vendors – the businessmen in Mumbai’s informal sector. Agreed that many of them sell counterfeit and smuggled goods but they do understand the base of the pyramid market much better than any multinational company’s sales and marketing departments; they know what sells and what doesn?t among the poor. More importantly, they understand the needs of the poor. Entrepreneurs or corporations targeting the BoP markets will do well to tap into the knowledge base of Mumbai’s (and India?s) informal sector. The knowledge that these guys have, can be valuable in conducting market research, developing products and carrying out marketing campaigns at the BoP. It would be even better if they are engaged as critical links in the value chain, such as franchisees. This could be a win-win situation for both sides and to the country as a whole since such an arrangement would help in formalizing the informal sector.

Food for thought (pun intended).

Happy reading.? Anything blog-worthy that I’ve missed?? Let me know (comments are open below).