Friday
February 20
2009

Francisco Noguera

Roundup: Catching Up on Our Base of the Pyramid Reading

My friend David, NextBillion reader and BOPreneur, pinged me last night and rightly asked why NextBillion.net has been slower than usual these days, missing a few of big news pieces that relate to the base of the pyramid and development through enterprise. He’s right. The truth is Rob and I have been with our hair on fire testing and working on what will very soon be the new face of this website.

In fact, if everything goes according to plan, this will be the last post I publish in NextBillion as it looks and feels now! Anyhow, it’s Friday and I do want to take the opportunity to point you to some relevant media pieces for you to catch up with this weekend, in case you haven’t yet.

The first (hat tip, David) is a 14-page special report about the middle classes published in The Economist last week. Why is this relevant to our readers? Well, NextBillion.net is based on the premise that business, enterprise and the profit motive can serve the poor enhancing their dignity and choice so they can climb the ladder up to that level of the pyramid.

I have read it slowly, re-reading many paragraphs. It offers great elements of analysis and a great excuse to slow down for a second and reflect on the various and complex implications (economic, environmental, political and social) of the fact that more and more of the world’s population are now part of the middle class. An indepth analysis of that report is in order and I’ve made a note to make sure that happens some time soon.

My two other recommendations comes from a personal favorite: Fast Company. Actually, wait… it’s not two but four other recommendations from Fast Company. (Happens everytime I go to find one link in their site).

An article in their last print edition describes how emerging markets and BoP business models are increasingly driving innovation in the developed world, and not the other way around. Fascinating stuff, citing examples in the financial sector, ICT and others. It’s based on recent research by McKinsey that I would love to get my hands around.

The same issue has Fast Company’s annual compliation of the world’s 50 most innovative companies. This year the usual suspects (Google, Zappos, Amazon, Facebook and the like) share the stage with Aravind Eye Care System. I know what you’re probably wondering and the answer is No, this is not Fast Company’s Social Capitalist Award (which is also very cool). This is a list of innovation in business and another promising sign of BoP business models mainstreaming.

Finally, as I browsed to find the previous two links, I ran into another two that caught my eye. The first one talks about researchers from MIT developing a pedal washing machine for the developing world. It’s still a prototype and we’ll have to wait and see if it kicks in and a scalable business model is built around it.

I’m not sure if it’s going to kick in but where better than You Noodle to put it side by side with other innovations?

Happy weekend and stay tuned for a new NextBillion!

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