Rob Katz

How Important is Scaling Up? Debate from TBLI

WorldChanging’s Nicole Anne Boyer was able to attend the 7th Triple Bottom Line Investment (TBLI) conference in Frankfurt a few weeks back. Her thorough reporting from the event is a must-read for folks interested in socially responsible investment and its associated spin-offs (including “meso-finance” for BOP firms).

Boyer reports that Scale seems to be the word of the day. Most conventional bankerswon’t look at anything — a product idea, an innovation, a service –unless they can see how it can scale. No mass market, no mulla. Thisputs at a serious disadvantage innovations which may not have anobvious scaling potential, but still deliver much value at the locallevel. How do we unlock these industrial age production mindsets? Howdo we overcome this dilemma?”

That’s a good question. We’re often asked how to scale up a good BOP business model out of a region, or country, to make it work for underserved populations worldwide. There isn’t a quick answer – and perhaps there’s even more to the question, as Boyer notes. How important is scaleability when it comes to reducing poverty?