Base Of the Pyramid = New Marketplace for Sustainable and Scalable Business Solutions

5 Takeaways From the BoP World Conference & ExpoTo Find Relevant Solutions For The 4 billion People At The Base of Pyramid (BoP)

We just spent three intense but rewarding days at the BoP World Convention & Expo. Not only did we meet incredible people; but we also embraced the idea of looking at the Bottom Of the Pyramid as a blue ocean opportunity. Tapping into this emerging marketplace would mean addressing issues of those who are most in need.

What is the Base Of Pyramid exactly?

BoP = 4 billion people who live with 10$/ day

You assume correctly that the acronym BoP stands for Bottom Of Pyramid — it is the largest and poorest social economic group in emerging economies. Today, more than 4 billion people live with less than 10$ / day and are considered as poor. At the same time, they represent a market of more than $US5 trillion dollars.

One may question the validity of this definition: what is poverty ? Is it really a material condition or is it a state of mind ? Although we all have different answer to this question, we all agree that we must find sustainable and scalable business solution to end poverty. And during the three days of the convention, we have been advised — among other thinsgs, on how to efficiently create these market-based solutions.

The convention’s theme, ‘A Brave New Marketplace: Unleashing Opportunities at the Base of the Pyramid,’ targets businesses, non-profits, and individuals keen on fostering business opportunities and investing in solutions that jumpstart growth for the 4 billion people at the BoP.

It was an opportunity for us to meet insightful people, other social entrepreneurs, tech entities, multinationals, manufacturers, people in R&D, investors and bankers, non-profit organisations, consultancies, etc. to discuss the vibrant market place of BoP in the South East Asia region.

Business Innovations that caught our attention

Not only did the BoP conference feature inspiring speakers; it was also an exhibition of innovations aimed at helping the BoP.

Amongst them, we really came to like EPIC houses, a non-profit capable of building a house in three days for underprivileged Malaysian communities. More specifically, its mission is to bridge the urban and rural divide through building homes.

We also met Rehan Allahwala, President and founder of more than 50 ventures around the world, who recently created The Rehan School School — a school based around a simple mobile phone. Its mission is to decrease the percentage of illiteracy in Pakistan which today stands 70%.

5 Takeaways to find sustainable and scalable business solutions to end poverty

1. “Consider the BoP not as a recipient of charity but as real customers” — Quote from Paul Polak, Founder of IDE and Windhorse International whose main business division is Spring Health Water which provides safe drinking water to more than 5 million people in India.

2. “Engage every stakeholder in the design process” — Quote from Jocelyn Wyatt, Executive Director at IDEO.org. Find business solutions that involve cross sectorial collaboration: communities, engineers, business managers, volunteers, investors and above all people on the ground. Think of innovation as a human-centered process.

Jocelyn Wyatt — Executive Director IDEO.org

3. “Unlock the power of partnerships”. Collaboration between big players / brands, social enterprises and governments is required in order to address the need of the BoP” — Quote from Sandeep Kohli, Vice President of Marketing Operations for Southeastasia and Australiasia at Unilever who developed sustainable brands such as Comfort with whom we also collaborate.

4. “Rely on intermediaries between the private sector and social enterprises to address administrative issues so that you can focus on your services and on scaling-up more quickly”— Quote from Olivier Kayser, Founder of Hystra which helps social sector pioneers to design profitable and scalable solutions to BoP challenges.

Olivier Kayser — Co-Founder Hystra

5. “Do not try to scale up until you can replicate your Business Model in other poor area of the world”— Quote from Marion Verles, Executive Director at Nexus Carbon for Development which is a cooperative of development organizations that support vulnerable communities by scaling up successful climate-friendly projects.

Marion Verles — Executive Director at Nexus Carbon Development

In all we’ve had three incredible days, meeting passionate and skilled professionals from all over the world, from social entrepreneurs, to bankers and volunteers. And although we all had different backgrounds and personal aspirations, we all shared the same mission — to find solutions for addressing problems and grievances of the people at the BoP.

Further details about the Gone Adventurin’ — Unilever partnership:http://www.goneadventurin.com/project/comfort-unilever-vietnams-water-heroes/

Article written by Paula Miquelis — Business Developer at Gone Adventurin’

Ashwin Subramaniam
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