Francisco Noguera

Introducing The (BoP) Project: Photojournalism at the Base of the Economic Pyramid

Here are three questions I think a lot about:

  • How can we continue to improve NextBillion?
  • What is the impact of NextBillion?
  • What kind of content is the kind that actually makes readers take action while contributing to the advance knowledge and practice in the Base of the Pyramid domain?

Good content is often the answer, and we’re lucky to having expert and thoughtful practitioners that contribute often to the site. However, we get frequent feedback from our readers and a lot of requests for more and better stories, documenting the models that are working and failing in the field of development through enterprise. Good stories activate empathy and allow us to see the world through the eyes of others; they facilitate learning and move us toward taking action. Photographs and footage can effectively multiply that effect and thus the impact of what we write. It’s our job to think creatively about the role that images and videos play in complementing written analysis and chronicle.

Credit: Jonathan Kalan, The (BoP) Project, 2010. Today I’m thrilled to introduce Jonathan Kalan, an old friend of NextBillion whose work in photojournalism is making a genuine, important contribution to the questions above. In effect, Jon’s work is expanding the tools and mediums we use to document the successes and struggles of social enterprise, an imperative for a platform like NextBillion at a time when there are so many tools at our disposals.

I first connected with Jon about three years ago, when he contacted me with some questions on the impact of mobile technologies at the base of the pyramid. We had a great conversation and have stayed in touch since then. I’ve come to admire his amazing skill for photography which he documents on his own Pura Vida website, and was able to offer a few ideas as he perfected the concept of his next project: The (BoP) Project: Photojournalism at the Base of the Economic Pyramid. Through The (BoP) Project, Jonathan will spend time on site with many of the most innovative social enterprises in East Africa, documenting his findings through blog posts (yep, he’s also a great writer) and photo essays.

Needless to say, meeting and building relationships with people like Jon is what makes this job spectacular. I encourage you to spend some time exploring Jon’s (BoP) Project and the first two entries, which document the work of KOMAZA and ECO-PESA in Eastern Kenya. Over the next few months Jonathan will spend time learning about and documenting several other social enterprises, including Movirtu, E+Co, Honey Care Africa, D.Light, LivingGoods and many more. We’ll keep you up to date here on NextBillion.

Your turn: How you can contribute

There several ways in which you, our readers, can contribute to this effort. First and foremost, you can offer feedback. What would you suggest to improve the photo essays? What other examples of photojournalism (in this or other fields) would you point our attention to?

Secondly, what other organizations should Jon contact as part of The (BoP) Project?

We really look forward to hearing from you, either through the comments field below or directly via email.

Base of the Pyramid