Business and the Global Poor
Thursday, February 8, 2007
Are the world’s poor, who individually have less than $5 a day in disposable income, a viable market for new goods and services? Consider the fact that there are four billion people around the globe that fit this description and you have the start of an answer.
But businesses that want to enter this market at the bottom of the economic pyramid (BOP) must look beyond just selling products?they must find ways to create social and economic value, according to the editors of a new volume, Business Solutions for the Global Poor.
The book grew out of a Harvard Business School conference in December 2005 on business solutions for alleviating poverty. The work combines chapters from a variety of perspectives?business, academic, government, nonprofit?to examine the nature of poverty, how the poor can become producers as well as consumers, and the roles to be played by policymakers and society at large. Of particular interest to business leaders are a number of case studies of successful BOP business models.
The co-editors are all associated with HBS: V. Kasturi (Kash) Rangan and John Quelch are faculty, Gustavo Herrero is executive director of the Latin America Research Center, and Brooke Barton is a research associate. We talked with Rangan about the research and the courses he teaches on business and poverty.
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