What is Base of the Pyramid

Since the turn of the century there has been an increased focus on the role and the opportunities of the private sector in creating not only economical but also social and environmental development in developing countries. Simultaneously, within business and amongst consumers, there is a growing focus on the social responsibility and ethics of business. It seems, that the business of business is not only business anymore.

The concept of “Base of the Pyramid” (BoP) was coined by  professor C.K. Prahalad with the book “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid” in 2002. Another important figure in this field is Stuart Hart from Cornell University, who has been a co-thinker together with Prahalad, and amongst other publications wrote “Capitalism at the Crossroads”, where he draws a strategic framework for business go “go beyond green” and engage directly in corporate social innovation to do good and do well.

The basic idea for the cross-over between business and development is, that business can provide products and services that are very much needed among poor people in both urban and rural areas, and that this should be done by building business models that includes the people not only as consumers, but also as producers and employees, thereby giving them the income to buy the products and services they need, and to create a life of well being. Companies can in this way create new markets and at the same time alleviate poverty and other pressing problems. This is what the United Nations has termed development through creating inclusive markets.

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