Building Businesses with Impact and Scale
As economic growth slows in the developed world, the base of the pyramid (BoP) represents perhaps the last great, untapped market. Of the world's 7 billion inhabitants, around 4 billion live in low-income markets in the developing world. These 4 billion people deserve—and, increasingly, are demanding—better lives. At the same time, the business community seeks new opportunities for growth, and the development community is striving to increase its impact. With these forces converging, the potential for mutual value creation is tremendous. This book provides a roadmap for realizing that potential.
Drawing on over 25 years of experience across some eighty countries, Ted London offers concrete guidelines for how to build better enterprises while simultaneously alleviating poverty. He outlines three key components that must be integrated to achieve results: the lived experiences of enterprises to date—both successes and failures; the development of an ecosystem that is conducive to market creation; and the voices of the poor, so that entrants can truly understand what poverty alleviation is about. London provides aspiring market leaders and their stakeholders with the tools and techniques needed to succeed in the unique, opportunity-rich BoP.
“Highly practical and based on deep insights. This book offers one of the most convincing accounts yet of the role BoP enterprises play in poverty alleviation.” — Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever
“Like many, I’ve struggled with how to bring innovation to meaningful scale, while never sacrificing the north star of impact. This book offers a blueprint that will enable social entrepreneurs and enterprise leaders to apply hard fought lessons and avoid key missteps; it offers the right tools to translate intention to action. I wish I had Ted’s guidance when I founded Root Capital. An invaluable contribution.” — Willy Foote, Founder & CEO, Root Capital
“Ted’s book couldn’t have come at a better time! After a tough, fifteen-year journey through unmapped territory, BoP entrepreneurs are eyeing the future with cautious optimism. They will gain immensely from the strategies laid out in this field guide, distilled from Ted’s ring-side view of several failed business models, many drawn-out experiments, and successful initiatives operating at scale.” — S. Sivakumar, Architect, ITC e-Choupal & Chief Executive, ITC Agri Business Division
“Ted’s vision combines clear thinking, refreshing humility, and a roadmap for audacious individuals who are ready to take on some of the world’s toughest challenges. This is an important book for seekers, learners, and especially doers who reject the status quo and are determined to make real change.” — Jacqueline Novogratz, Founder & CEO, Acumen
“In this must-read book, Ted London draws on over a decade of experience linking two formerly separate domains: the business world and the development community. He provides an integrated set of tools, frameworks, and strategies for successfully enhancing the chances of the more than 4 billion poor through entrepreneurship and venture creation. With this book, we may finally fulfill the base of the pyramid promise.” — Stuart L. Hart, University of Vermont & co-author of the Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid
New Approaches for Building Mutual Value
Named a Top 40 Book for 2010 University of Cambridge, Programme for Sustainability Leadership.
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.
“Anyone interested in the challenges and opportunities faced by the low-income people must read this well-researched book. At a time when intellectual discourse on this important topic is urgently needed, London’s and Hart’s book combines a wealth of experience in the corporate setting with a deep understanding of economics. Needless to say, we are in the midst of multiple global crises threatening the well-being of all. This book is an attempt to give capitalism new strategies for responding to those crises.”
—Muhammad Yunus, Head of Grameen
“This book demonstrates that the most socially useful business models to serve the Base of the Pyramid are those which are created for the market they seek to serve, incorporating appropriate green technologies and innovation-oriented strategies in venture development. Such ventures can go on to achieve the higher purpose of BoP businesses: poverty alleviation.” —Ratan Tata, CEO, Tata Industries
“A crucial and most creative re-framing of the BoP debate: The authors look at the world’s poor not just as four billion more consumers, but also as a source of talented entrepreneurs--potential business partners ready to enter the formal economy to put their assets to work and lift themselves, and their countries, out of poverty.” —Hernando de Soto, Institute for Liberty and Democracy
“The Base of the Pyramid is a big breakthrough idea that risked being captured as the new conventional wisdom. This clever book by scholars and practitioners averts that by taking the deeply original insight to the next stage. A fitting tribute to C.K. Prahalad.” —Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, Former Administrator, United Nations Development Programme
“Ted London’s and Stuart Hart’s insightful book explores with a fresh lens the challenges facing the economies and communities of the BoP, and offers long-term solutions based on joint value-creation rather than ‘fortune-seeking.’ Today’s businesses must engage with these communities on a deeper level, to ensure equal understanding of the culture’s needs, how to educate BoP business owners, and to uncover ways to move forward--with sustainability as a top priority. This book makes an invaluable contribution to that end.” —Fisk Johnson, CEO, S.C. Johnson
In 2018, London was awarded the Responsible Research in Management Award/Inaugural IACMR Presentational Award for The Base of the Pyramid Promise. The award was co-sponsored by the Community for Responsible Research in Business and Management (RRBM) and the International Association for Chinese Management Research (IACMR).
London focuses his research on developing enterprise strategies for BoP markets, building cross-sector collaborations, and enhancing mutual value creation. He has published extensively with an emphasis on creating new knowledge with important actionable outcomes. His co-authors include Stuart Hart, Dennis Rondinelli, Ravi Anupindi, Andy Grogan-Kaylor, Heather Esper, and Geoff Kistruck. His work has been cited over 3,500 times. Some of his more popular and highly-cited articles include:
Journal of International Business Studies
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal