Rob Katz

Yakking It Up at the BOP in China

Yaks for DevelopmentYaks for development? Withhold judgment and read on–this BOP project has legs (4, in fact). NextBillion ally Carol Chyau doesn?t think yak jokes are funny–with a partner, she’s behind the newly-formed Yashmere and Cheese for Change for-profit social enterprises. The Harvard Crimson reports:

…they want to use innovative business solutions to tackle development challenges. To improve living standards in rural communities in western China, they have launched a non-governmental organization, Ventures in Development, with two for-profit subsidiaries designed to leverage one of the region’s most abundant local resources?13 million Tibetan yaks.

Ventures in Development will work with 4,000 Chinese families implementing base of the pyramid strategies in rural China. One of the for-profit enterprises will market yak down fiber to the international knitter’s market–a BOP cashmere (yashmere) of sorts. The other, meanwhile, will turn yak milk into gourmet cheese. Chyau and her business partner, Marie So, have dubbed that enterprise ?Cheese for Change.?

Chyau, who co-authored the What Works case study of First Mile Solutions, will graduate from the Kennedy School of Government in a few weeks. She and So have started a blog to chronicle their progress…check it out.

(Thanks for the heads up, Julia!)