BoP Boom in Japan Part I

Friday, March 30, 2012

The year 2009 was referred to as “The first year of BoP in Japan”. Not only did the Japanese translation of the late Prof. Prahalad’s “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid” received much attention, BoP market analyzation that focused on emerging markets in Asia and African countries gained wide recognition too. Documentaries on the subject were broadcasted not only on commercial TV stations but also on NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation), giving it an official media appeal. Subsequently, the joint ventures between UNIQLO and Yukiguni Maitake Company with Grameen in Bangladesh in 2011 accelerated the BoP boom.

I attended two BoP seminars organized by Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) in February in Tokyo. The overwhelming participation resulted in the venue being changed to a bigger hall to meet the increasing demand in terms of interest of Japanese companies’ who wish to tap the BoP market based on push factors of prolonged domestic economic stagnation, population decrease etc. as well as pull factors such as economic and population growth in emerging markets.
The first seminar was the kick-off seminar for a series of upcoming “BoP volume zone market” seminars with the title “Towards the building of BoP business model – report from the site”. The half day seminar which attracted 300 audiences was co-organized by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the sponsors included International Finance Corporation (IFC) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The three key note speakers were invited from India. They shared perspectives on the following titles of “Overview of the offerings of the Tata Group to the BoP” (by Tata Consultancy Services), “Serving society through sciences – the drinking water challenge” (by Tata Chemicals) as well as “Energizing BoP” (by Appropriate Rural Technology Institute).
Drawing from practical insight, the speakers advised that if Japanese companies are looking for sustainable business opportunities, it is better to build a long term partnership of trust with local social businesses instead of with NGOs. In addition, the selection of partners should be based primarily on the vision and mission of the chosen partners. Otherwise, a mismatch could lead to a high risk of business failure.

Source: CSR Asia (link opens in a new window)

Base of the Pyramid, business development, corporate social responsibility