Where social problems and business solutions meet
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Cultivating consumers from the world’s poorest people may sound like the business model of an exploitative corporation, but that’s exactly what Aliza Belman Inbal wants Israeli businesses to do.
In the interest of full disclosure, she’ll tell you, there is a dual purpose: While private-sector-driven technology has fertile ground for turning a profit in the developing world, it’s also the best way to help bring people out of poverty.
“We’re so good at innovation and finding creative solutions to difficult problems, particularly in fields that are of such crucial importance to the developing world like food security and combating desertification and renewable energy and medical technology,” says Inbal, stressing that the private sector, and not the government, is the best catalyst for such technological innovation.
A former World Bank researcher with a doctorate in development who directs the international development program at Tel Aviv University’s Harold Hartog School of Government and Policy, Inbal argues that consumers at the “base of the pyramid” (BOP) represent an estimated $5 trillion in purchasing power. Because they tend to overpay for basic goods and services, they also represent an opportunity for companies that develop smart technological solutions – as so many Israeli companies do – to solve the problems that the poor face.