Archive for Bottom-of-the-pyramid

links for 2009-03-23

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Internet for the next billion

netRecent statistics point out that approx 1.3 billion people have access to the internet. While this sounds like a big number, it leaves out a couple of billion users — or to use a term that excites companies more: customers — that might want to be connected. Which would explain why there is such huzzbuzz around the “not-quite-but-almost-at-the-bottom-of-the-pyramid” solutions. Negroponte led the way in using a meshed network to connect his educational tool, but now comes the next version ot this to bridge the digital divide. Combine this with Rifkin’s “Access matters”, and the future is bright, who knows?

In any case, it seems that Varshavsky wasn’t fast enough with his FON this time. Maybe he should have focused on BoP, too?

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Voluntary Sector Initiatives and other New Partnerships

ethical_corp.jpgI attended a conference on Business and NGO partnerships last week. Good for readers of this blog that there was an off-the-record policy which blocked all WLAN and thus prevented me from live-blogging! So you won’t get every breath they took as in that CSR-Conference in October, see my posts on Ed Freeman et al.

Conferences hosted by Ethical Corporation are by and large quite worthwhile their time (disclaimer: I do occasionally work as a freelance journo for Ethical Corporation), and this one was no exception. And, you can imagine that not only for a journo it’s always worth your while to get the information from the horses’ mouth.

The German-language readers of this blog might get a wee brief on this conference at a post in http://csr-new.net - btw a great multilingual (English/Spanish/German) source for CSR-related issues. All other ones might get the gist of it by focusing on the bold subheadings - plus, of course, following the links below the article.

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Zeichen und Wunder

yunus.jpghttp://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/2006/

:) BoP!

via Pienso

update: Here is a critical account of Yunus’ work and “Microcredit as Business” by a CDG research fellow.

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MDGs and business - African perspectives

bongos2.jpgI am just back from a conference on the “Business Challenge Africa”, putting business into the responsibility - and opportunity - framework for working towards the Millenium Development Goals. Again, there were lots of interesting business ideas, most of which were sourced from within countries such as Zambia, Uganda, Malawi and South Africa, do have a look at the case study section of the background paper on the conference (link above, right hand navigation, as there is no separate url provided).

What worries me, though, is that all topics CSR are present and known by representatives of North as well as South. Everyone - even Nestle - agrees on the role business can play in eradicating poverty through providing opportunity and that there is a business case (arghh, this discussion must raise its ugly head at every conference only vaguely related to CSR, mustn’t it?) for it. However, where’s the beef? There’s far too little serious (not in moral but in bottom line terms) and scalable multi-sectoral partnerships involving MNCs with NGOs and/or governmental agencies.

Ah well, suppose there’s a time for everything?

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BoP till you drop

bop2.jpgManagement guru C.K. Prahalad gave a lecture to World Bankers at their headquarter on “Democratising commerce”. He has a critical take on an aid industry of governments and NGOs that tends to see the poor as victims to be helped. Instead, he argues for seeing the poor as part of the solution, focussing on wealth creation at “the bottom of the pyramid” (what he calls BoP). To have this less of an abstract guru talk, he backed it up with a number of cases, all of them private sector solutions to development .

However, the PSD blog asks, although these examples are excellent and exciting stories,

How do these solutions “scale” in Nicaragua or Laos or Moldova? With deep respect for Prahalad, I’d like to see more examples of bottom of the pyramid solutions in smaller developing countries. Surely we’re interested in more than the Indian or Chinese or Brazilian pyramid.

Update: Commenting on this, Nextbillion.net points to their database, searchable by country/region as well as activity type (e.g. water, education, financial services, business development), providing BOP examples from Latin America, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Africa.

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