Latin America: Social innovation ? Giving the majority a stake

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Latin American companies are getting to grips with ?bottom of the pyramid? business. Illiterate residents across rural Bolivia have never heard of the academic CK Prahalad. And until recently many had never used modern banking services.

They still don?t know who Prahalad is, but now they are withdrawing money from a voice-recognition ATM developed by Prodem, a microfinance institution. In addition to understanding verbal instructions, the specially adapted bank machines use customer fingerprints rather than a card and pin.

The innovative scheme focuses on low-income customers traditionally overlooked by companies ? what Professor Prahalad of the University of Michigan defines as ?the bottom of the pyramid? (BOP).

It is estimated that the BOP could represent as many as five billion of the world?s 6.6 billion people. In Latin America, the Inter-American Development Bank considers anyone living on $9 or less per day as a BOP candidate or, as the bank puts it, a member of the ?majority” population.

Continue reading

Source: Ethical Corporation (link opens in a new window)