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Next Generation Business Strategies for the Base of the Pyramid: New Approaches for Building Mutual Value

By Ted London, Stuart L. Hart

Published by FT Press

Published Date: Nov 8, 2010

Description

More and more enterprises are seeking to craft winning "base of the pyramid" (BoP) ventures, serving the world's four billion poorest customers while alleviating poverty at the same time. Early first-generation ventures focused primarily on selling products to this massive and growing under-served market. Many of these initiatives did not scale, and some have failed. Crucial lessons have been learned along the way, and innovators are now succeeding with a more sophisticated and nuanced approach to "BoP." These second-generation business strategies have remained invisible to many leaders in the for-profit, non-profit, and development communities--until now. In this book, Ted London, Stuart L. Hart, and nine leading BoP thought and practice leaders show how to apply today's most significant BoP innovations, techniques, and business models. London, Hart, and their contributors go beyond providing low-cost products and extending distribution reach, demonstrating how to promote market development, innovation, and capability creation "with" BoP new customers, not "at" them. Readers will learn how to reconceptualize their opportunities, create sustainable business ecosystems, design new technologies with BoP in mind, and even transform entire sectors through collaborative entrepreneurship. From start to finish, this book shares proven, "on-the-ground" insights for building scalable, profitable businesses that are sustainable, and truly can help alleviate social ills.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     xvi

About the Authors     xvii

Dedication to C.K. Prahalad     xxiii

The Big Picture by C.K. Prahalad     xxvi

Foreword by Y.C. Deveshwar     xxxiii

 

Introduction: Creating a Fortune with the Base of the Pyramid     1

Ted London, William Davidson Institute & Ross School of Business, University of Michigan; and Stuart Hart, Johnson School of Management, Cornell University

 

The introduction, by co-editors Ted London and Stuart Hart, conveys the core message of the book: that the next generation of BoP business strategies won’t be about “finding a fortune at the base of the pyramid,” but rather, about “creating a fortune with the base of the pyramid.” The shift from “fortune-finding” to “fortune-creating” has implications for how BoP ventures are organized, and how their strategies are conceived and implemented. Co-editors London and Hart introduce the three core sections of the book--Roadmaps for Success, Strategic Opportunities, and Effective Implementation--and explain how the contents of each can help venture leaders approach the challenges and opportunities of BoP markets.

 

PART ONE: ROADMAPS FOR SUCCESS

 

Chapter 1  Building Better Ventures with the  Base of the Pyramid: A Roadmap     19

Ted London, William Davidson Institute & Ross School of Business, University of Michigan

 

Ted London’s chapter addresses how venture leaders can maximize the chances that their business development efforts in BoP markets will succeed. Which business practices should guide your efforts--and which ones should you be sure to avoid--as your venture moves through the stages of designing, piloting, and scaling? How do you craft initial business models, effectively test these approaches, and create sustainable competitive advantage? Using the perspective of “creating a fortune with the base of the pyramid,” London provides a set of guiding principles (a “roadmap”) that answer these and other critical questions relevant to both existing and start-up BoP ventures.

 

Chapter 2  Innovation for the BoP: The Patient Capital Approach    45

Robert Kennedy, William Davidson Institute & Ross School of Business, University of Michigan; and Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder and CEO, Acumen Fund

 

Co-authors Robert Kennedy and Jacqueline Novogratz explain how social entrepreneurs and “philanthrocapitalists” are changing the BoP landscape by connecting innovative business approaches to “patient capital”--money that is expected to generate returns over a longer period than is typical of (say) venture capital. They identify four types of innovation that are proving critically important to success in operating in BoP markets, and show how a range of enterprises are applying these approaches in the field.

 

PART TWO: STRATEGIC OPPORTUNITIES

 

Chapter 3  Taking the Green Leap to the Base of the Pyramid     79

Stuart Hart, Johnson School of Management, Cornell University

 

Can the BoP teach the “ToP” (the “top of the pyramid”) anything? Author Stuart Hart says “yes.” In the old BoP model, Western entrepreneurs sought to sell goods and services to the BoP with little regard to environmental consequences. Today, Hart argues, the next generation of entrepreneurs are trying to develop distributed, smallscale, “small-footprint” products and services that are more appropriate to the BoP context--and may well point the way toward better models for the ToP, as well.

 

Chapter 4  Needs, Needs, Everywhere, But Not a BoP Market to Tap     103

Erik Simanis, Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise, Johnson School of Management, Cornell University

 

Market creation, argues author Erik Simanis, is fundamentally different from market entry. And although the BoP is a “basket of compelling needs,” it is not yet a “market” in the traditional sense of that term. As a result, entrepreneurs in the BoP context have to think in terms of market creation--and understand how to achieve that end in a uniquely challenging context. The wise venturer in the BoP space, Simanis writes, learns how to frame the value proposition and manage the innovation process (through seeding, base-building, and growth and consolidation) in ways that align business strategy with BoP opportunity. Through a sustained case study involving a soy-protein product, Simanis illustrates how to stay on track while building markets with the BoP.

 

Part Three: Effective Implementation

 

Chapter 5  A Micro-Level Approach to Understanding BoP Markets     129

Madhu Viswanathan, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

 

“The devil is in the details,” as the old saying goes. In this chapter, Madhu Viswanathan makes the case that BoP markets have to be understood at the ground level--from the bottom up--if a venture is to succeed in those marketplaces. What are the marketplace-relevant characteristics of poverty? In the one-to-one interactional marketplaces of the BoP, the boundaries between “human” and “economic” issues tend to get blurred, long-term relationships tend to trump short-term ones, “rich networks” make up for resource constraints, and consumption and entrepreneurship can be two sides of the same coin. BoP entrepreneurs, therefore, have to concretize, localize, and “socialize” their products and services.

 

Chapter 6  Reframing Design for the Base of the Pyramid     165

Patrick Whitney, Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology

 

By enabling breakthrough products, issues of design have come to the fore in the industrialized world, which is leaving behind economies of scale for economies of choice. Contrasting the Apple iPhone with the Chotukool refrigerator, author Patrick Whitney explores the provocative question of whether strategic design techniques that have proven themselves at the top of the economic pyramid might also prove useful--in identical or modified forms--when applied to base of the pyramid markets. His answer is “yes”--albeit with some important caveats.

 

Chapter 7  BoP Venture Formation for Scale     193

Allen Hammond, Ashoka

 

Social enterprises do good works. But unless they achieve a significant scale, they aren’t in a position to serve millions of BoP customers, or to help reshape economies. Author Allen Hammond argues for a combination of both bottom-up and top-down enterprise formation to better reach and serve BoP markets, and explains how that productive mix can be accomplished. Additionally, he suggests, BoP entrepreneurs can build business ecosystems (rather than stand-alone ventures) to support scale. Hammond explains how “hybrid” organizations can serve that purpose--and provides insights from a real-world example.

 

Conclusion: A Continuing Journey     217

Ted London, William Davidson Institute & Ross School of Business, University of Michigan; and Stuart Hart, Johnson School of Management, Cornell University

 

Co-editors Ted London and Stuart Hart look at “the journey ahead”--both in terms of the future of BoP-oriented ventures, and in terms of the research that needs to be done to help advance our understanding of the field, which ultimately will help those BoP-oriented ventures succeed. They present--and begin the debate about--five core assumptions that underpin the BoP domain, which collectively help set the BoP agenda of tomorrow.

 

Appendix:  Attendees from 2009 Conference: Creating a Shared Roadmap     233

 

Index     239

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ISBN-13: 978-0-13-261655-3

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