Innovation at the Bottom of the Pyramid
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
According to C. K. Prahalad, a professor of corporate strategy at the Ross School of Business of the University of Michigan, corporations seeking to create new markets addressing the needs of the billions of poor people living at the bottom of the economic pyramid can — and should — use that effort to drive sustainability and innovation within their own ranks.
The primary lesson, said Mr. Prahalad in a recent telephone interview with Green Inc., is learning to “do more with less.”
Excerpts from that conversation follow.
Q. You recently co-authored a report on corporate sustainability and innovation for the Harvard Business Review. And you are well known for your writing on economic development at the bottom of the pyramid. How are these two topics related?
A. Consider that three to four billion of the world’s poor are aspiring to emerge from poverty and join the organized sector as micro-consumers and micro-producers. This change in the pattern of growth and trade and its impacts cannot be ignored. Even if our horizon is only 10 years, this will add strains on the environment that are hard to predict – be it water, energy, commodities, transportation.