Scott Anderson

Weekly Roundup 1/19/13: A March conference focuses on Marketing to the BoP (A video Q&A with Hystra’s Kayser)

We’re less than three weeks into 2013, but the calendar of events focused on base of pyramid strategies, knowledge, and best practices is already growing.

For instance, the William Davidson Institute, which manages NextBillion, announced Friday that it will be hosting its fourth summit on BoP this autumn at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Set for Oct. 21-23, the event will be “reflective and introspective,” with the idea of outlining a set of actionable post-conference activities, according to WDI Senior Research Fellow Ted London. We’ll have much more on this conference on NextBillion.

But coming up a bit sooner on the calendar is a conference titled, “Marketing for the Base of the Pyramid (M4Bop),” taking place March 7 at the Shell Centre in London. It’s hosted by the France-based Hystra, a for-profit firm that works with business and social sector innovators to design and implement hybrid strategies for businesses and NGOs working at the BoP. Hystra has worked with large corporations, aid agencies, and foundations – including Danone, Total, GDF Suez, Schneider Electric, Lafarge, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Shell Foundation and the Children Investment Fund Foundation. Since its founding in 2009, the company has been advising its clients in designing market-based approaches to expanding clean energy, safe drinking water and ICT to low-income people. They have also published three public reports that are free to download here.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Olivier Kayser, the founder and managing director of Hystra, about its latest paper and centerpiece of the March conference, “Marketing for the BoP.”

From 2003-08, Kayser was a vice president at Ashoka. He launched its France and UK operations, created the global Ashoka Support Network, and advised Ashoka on its Full Economic Citizenship initiative. Kayser also worked at McKinsey for 18 years, and is a graduate of HEC School of Management.

Kayser and I talked via Skype last week. We chatted about how and why he formed Hystra, and what the upcoming report on marketing to the BoP – which shares examples from 15 different organizations – has revealed. (For those interested in attending the conference, please email:

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Base of the Pyramid, business development