Nathan Wyeth

Weekly Roundup April 12-19: Skoll World Forum & Remembering C.K. Prahalad

It’s with great sadness that following his untimely death on April 16 that we’ll be remembering the life and work of C.K. Prahalad this week. Yesterday Blair Miller posted a heartfelt reflection from the perspective of a one-time student of Prahalad and today Prahalad’s co-author for the groundbreaking paper The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Stuart Hart, remembers him from his time as a colleague at the University of the Michigan.

In India, the U.S., and around the world Prahalad is being memorialized as one of the great management thinkers in recent decades. We’ve collected here some of the links that have already appeared in global media:

Prime Minister of India Condoles the Passing of C.K. Prahalad

The Times of India: A Scholar Who Lived His Theories

The Economic Times: Celebrating a Great Life & Prahalad was One of the Great Management Thinkers

Additional recollections of the impact that Prahalad had on the individuals in the NextBillion community will be featured in the coming days. His loved ones will be in our thoughts and prayers.

In case you missed it…

Last week we featured several great posts by Grace Augustine reporting directly from the Skoll World Forum – including on the focus this year at that event on financing for ecosystem services.

Although it might not be apparent at first glance, this is a topic that to me is critical to a comprehensive understanding of the situation at the base of the pyramid. Not only do the poor depend much more directly than the wealthy on the availability of basic resources like water, soil, and forests in their specific locations, just like the poor the free services provided by healthy ecosystems (and lost when ecosystems are degraded) exist at the edge of, or beyond, functioning markets. When their economic value is not accounted for, just as people at the base of the pyramid are not accounted for as economic actors, both ecosystems and the poor suffer. Grace’s post goes deeper and is a great introduction to this topic and the organizations leading the way on it.

Last week two of our writers took deep looks into emerging models for ground-level impact in South Asia:

Bryan Farris looked inside the Association for Development of Pakistan to learn about one innovative use of local and remote volunteer expertise to lower transactions costs involved in vetting organizations for grants that are small for funders but huge for community organizations:

“ADP’s “secret sauce” lies in their ability to minimize the cost of their screening process, and therefore maintain a low average transaction cost… “Small grants less than $10K make sense not only because it’s a segment that is currently underserved, but also because the bulk of non-profits in Pakistan have annual revenues of %7E$6K or less…”.

Perhaps because grant decisions is glamorous and closely held by most granting organizations, this application for at-large human capital is usually overlooked – but is a great example of how volunteers can add high-value services to an organization.

Manuel Bueno examined the BRAC model in Bangladesh – combining health services, microfinance, and livelihood assistance to reach not simply the poor but the ultra-poor who are typically excluded even from microfinance. These three pillars interact over 5 stages to provide a modicum of stability and economic access to the ultra-poor.

Even in the context of discussing poverty on a regular basis on this site, the realities of life for the ultra poor are bracing and the fearlessness of the BRAC model is powerful. Though it is still being refined and proven, success is being shown.

For example, “the percentage of participants who reported going without food for entire days fell from 60% to 15%.” You have to start somewhere.

Meanwhile, Diana Hollmann provided an overview of the base of the pyramid development sector in the Middle East and North Africa – in advance of President Obama’s upcoming Summit on Entrepreneurship focusing on this region. Among other indicators, the Arab world has not only one sixth the average amount of water of the global average, but an average age (22 years) six years younger than the global averge.

“The Base of the (economic) Pyramid (BOP) concept might not be as mature in MENA as in South Asia or elsewhere; however, things are certainly advancing in the region. Just last week the very first BOP study on Egypt was introduced in Cairo…”

Furthermore, on May 14 and 15, Ashoka Arab World will host the Arab Social Innovation Forum, “a conference bringing together social entrepreneurs, business leaders, civil society and international organizations to advance social innovations in the MENA region.”