Scott Anderson

The Best of May on NextBillion: Challenging Assumptions

In May, our most-read posts had a common theme: challenging assumptions. Specifically, we featured voices and counterpoints that run against the mainstream, both supporting our sector and questioning it. So it seems sort of fitting that we also announce a new staff writer who has dueled with conventional wisdom on the subject of marketing and advertising to the BoP.

Grant Tudor, an associate with Ogilvy & Mather, began guest writing for NextBillion this spring and has agreed to sign on as a staff writer. Currently at OgilvyEarth, a division of the Ogilvy network that builds and markets sustainable brands, Grant is exploring the power of marketing to affect social change. He’s has previously worked with other socially focused organizations including Ashoka, Virtue Ventures and Population Services International. His experience, both on the corporate and nonprofit/NGO side of the fence, is pretty evident in posts such as: Seeking Innovation? Search Out the Deviants (about positive deviants and why marketers and others should pay attention to them) and Less Hungry, More Human: A Marketing Perspective to Fighting Malnutrition. If you haven’t read him, you can check out all of Grant’s posts here and/or check him out on Twitter @g_tudor. Welcome, Grant.

The Most-Read Posts for May

The Dangerous Promise of Impact Investing – From Ashoka Europe by Nilima Achwal was the most read-post of May and continues to reverberate around the Interwebs. Felix Oldenburg, Ashoka’s Europe and Germany director, presented a strong critique of the current hype surrounding impact investing, arguing that the investment trend is a fatally flawed for many income starved social ventures.

The Best of Both Worlds? Blending For-Profit and Non-Profit Models by Shanika Gunaratna plays off Oldenburg’s arguments at least insofar as the flexibility that goes with being a social entrepreneur, whom she describes as “the graceful, agile acrobats of the business world.”

’The Price is Wrong’ (For Some Things) at the BoP by Saurabh Lall was a challenge to a challenge from MIT’s Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee at the Jameel Poverty Action Lab. Based on ten evaluations on health and education programs from around the world, their latest bulletin, “The Price is Wrong” argues that “charging small fees dramatically reduces access to important products for the poor.” But Saurabh says the issue of pricing vs. free depends on what is being bought, sold or donated.

Why Should Your Company Engage the BoP? by Josh Cleveland includes a focused framework for multinationals and other companies mulling an entry into the BoP market, and a thought process flow that might just help them decide just how to do it. Josh breaks down corporate market motivations into three categories: market focused (specific product categories and geographic markets), brand equity (an overall brand image for the corporation not linked to any one product category or geographic market) and organizational development (to build internal staff loyalty, engagement and professional development) approaches.

Moving Impact Investing from Niche to Mainstream, While Protecting the Mission by Thorsten Wirkes focused on a key panel at SOCAP/Europe moderated Matthew Bishop, American Business editor for The Economist. The discussion ranged from the thorny issue of whether impact investing should be considered its own asset class to new notions of measuring impact.

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financial inclusion, skill development