Scott Anderson

(With Video) The BoP Summit: Set for Oct. 21, the 3-day event takes stock and charts a course

Ted London, senior research fellow and director of the Base of the Pyramid Initiative at the William Davidson Institute, has an office right down the hall from me (WDI operates the NextBillion network). I regularly hear about the research he and his team are conducting, as well as the NGOs, development agencies and businesses with whom he’s consulting.

Most of those activities are under the radar, with London and his team traveling around the globe, doing the often unglamorous job of meticulously collecting data, analyzing it, and determining what works and what doesn’t in enterprise development that serves the underserved. London’s latest project, however, is very much above the radar.

He’s leading the “BoP Summit 2013: Creating an Action Agenda for the Next Decade” at the University of Michigan (, set for October 21-23 here in Ann Arbor. While there’s lots to celebrate about inclusive business, there’s also plenty to question, ponder and reconsider – especially when it comes to barriers to success and the inability to replicate successful business models across industries and geographies. Registration for the summit is open, but spaces are limited. The three-day event will be limited to 200 practitioners who will:

1. Take stock of what is known thus far about the BoP domain

2. Identify critical success factors and on-going challenges that must be overcome

3. Determine an action agenda that builds upon existing successes and addresses current limitations

That last point is the key. This isn’t a conference that ends after the last workshop or speaker wraps up. The goal is to create a “roadmap” for the future of the BoP domain, and build a robust list of people and organizations that will take the next step in tackling the challenges that are slowing the sector. The post-conference leadership team charged with developing various sections of the roadmap includes many notable names:

? Sasha Dichter, chief innovation officer, Acumen

? Stuart Hart, co-founder, IISE/Emergent Institute

? Chris Jochnick, director of Private Sector Department, Oxfam America

? James Koch, executive director, Global Social Benefit Incubator

? Radha Muthiah, executive director, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves

? Sateen Sheth, manager, Project Implementation, WDI

? Filippo Veglio, director of Social Capital Focus Area | World Business Council for Sustainable Development

? Madhu Viswanathan, professor, University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign

? Simon Winter, senior vice president of Development, TechnoServe

? Prashant Yadav, director of Health Care Research initiative, WDI

In effect, the summit is designed to hit the pause button to reflect, and then hit fast forward to move ahead with solutions.

London, also a member of the faculty at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, sat down with me recently to talk about the summit’s details and goals, as well as where he sees the BoP domain moving.

Please check out our discussion below:

Base of the Pyramid, William Davidson Institute