Nathan Wyeth

Weekly Roundup: BOP Ubiquity

One of my roles as Editor is to scan the news for articles of note to a readership interested in base of the pyramid development. I wish I could say this involved reading a huge number of newspapers from around the world every morning but it actually takes the form of a number of Google alerts on some key phrases so that we can highlight stories that specifically reference market-oriented development approaches.

But my job is getting harder – because “base of the pyramid” is becoming the general phrase used not only by a select number of people referring specifically to market-oriented development strategies, but as a figure of speech to refer to the poor broadly, particularly in India. An example is midway through this article. It’s a much better descriptor than “low income” – and though it makes scanning the news for stories directly relevant to Next Billion that much harder, it is great to see this construction become popularized because of how much more powerful of a concept it is. I am constantly reminded of the title of Ela Bhatt’s book, We are Poor but So Many.

New Reports

I wanted to highlight two reports that should be appearing soon in our Research section – Dalberg’s Franchising in Frontier Markets report done with the John Templeton Foundation and the IFC, and Oxfam’s new Poverty Footprint report intending to help businesses understand the full impact they are making on poverty and development in their supply chain, products, and more.

The Dalberg Report starts with analysis of well-known multinational brands that grow through franchising, and examines how such a strategy can be relevant at the base of the pyramid:

“Franchising addresses the challenge of large distances between outlets and the need for local adaptation in frontier markets. The lack of market density makes franchising an interesting strategy for growth in frontier markets.”

The report includes case studies of SPOT City Taxis and Visionspring in addition to in-depth analysis of how both traditional and micro-franchising has emerged in select emerging markets.

Around the Web

The recent launch of Kopernik intends to fill a crucial missing gap between technology creators and the intended customers at the base of the pyramid – or more accurately, between product distribution companies and technologies that may be deployed in one place but are relevant elsewhere. I am curious to see how well the web format works in reaching such product distributors.

I saw a brief but informative post with great links on the blog of the Foundation for Youth Social Enterepeneurship on innovations in transportation in South and Southeast Asia – that is, in rickshaws.

As part of our continued focus on Haiti, I also wanted to highlight a post on the World Bank’s PSD Blog on private education in Haiti, which is incredibly prevalent, and examines the reasons for this.

Finally, a movie is coming out of Hollywood that is even more radical than Avatar in its subtle message – one that I think is very relevant to base of the pyramid development space. It has also been causing a similarly intense reaction among audiences who are emotionally struck by its subject matter. You can see the trailer here.