Rob Katz

Two New Papers Explore Base of the Pyramid Concept

Two new papers exploring the ’base of the pyramid’ concept crossed my desk recently. We posted both of them to the Newsroom, but they also merit a slightly longer discussion.

First, Jean-Louis Warnholz of the University of Oxford’s Queen Elizabeth House has a new working paper out entitled “Poverty Reduction for Profit? A critical examination of business opportunities at the Bottom of the Pyramid.” In his paper, Warnholz studies overarching BoP strategy and applies a new dataset – based on price survey data – to look deeply at the extent of a ’poverty penalty’ at the BoP.

Warnholz’s paper merits a close read, especially for academic members of the BoP community. I will hold off on giving my impression of his paper – other than to say that it’s worthy of a close read – until I have had the chance to speak with the author himself (I have a request out to him – stay tuned to

The second paper I recommend is David Lehr’s just-posted “Going Wireless: Dialing for Development.” (Full disclosure: I provided David with feedback on the initial drafts of this paper.) In it, Lehr – a 2007 Acumen Fund Fellow – examines the role of mobile devices in expanding economic opportunity at the BoP.

While “Going Wireless” is not the first examination of the role of technology for development, Lehr does an excellent job culling the best lessons and examples from the existing literature while offering his own keen insights and analysis. I highly recommend giving this paper a thorough read, and find it especially useful as an introduction/overview of the mobiles-for-development space.

If NextBillion readers have particular thoughts on these two papers, please post them in the comments section below.