Today, there is little dispute that poverty is one of the most pressing global problems calling for innovative solutions. One approach currently attracting much attention is the so-called base-of-the-pyramid (BOP; also referred to as "bottom-of-the-pyramid") concept, a novel approach that, it is suggested, can deliver at least a partial solution to poverty.
Pioneering work by Prahalad and Hart suggests that there is a fortune to be made for entrepreneurs in BOP initiatives, while at the same time great opportunities for the world's poor to escape from poverty. Prahalad has championed a profitable win–win engagement scenario for the private sector. The topic has unleashed an extensive and generally enthusiastic response from academics, businesses, NGOs and governments.
This special issue brings together leading research in this nascent field. The majority of the papers are based on empirical case studies from several countries in Asia, Africa and South America. The issues that the articles deal with include social embeddedness of firms or innovations in the low-income markets, multi-stakeholder collaborations in facilitating the development of BOP product–service concepts, or tensions between different stakeholders involved in the introduction of potentially disruptive innovations to BOP markets. One of the more provocative papers is a conceptual critique of the BOP approach.
Table of Contents IntroductionPrabhu Kandachar, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, and Minna Halme, Helsinki School of Economics, FinlandInfluential Factors in Becoming Socially Embedded in Low-Income MarketsPablo Sánchez, Joan Enric Ricart and Miguel Ángel Rodríguez, IESE Business School, University of Navarra, SpainSmall-scale Farmer Access to International Agri-food Chains: A BOP-Based Reflection on the Need for Socially Embedded Innovation in the Coffee and Flower SectorMyrtille Danse, Agricultural Economics Research Institute (LEI), The Netherlands, and Sietze Vellema, Technology and Agrarian Development Group/Agricultural Economics Research Institute (LEI), The NetherlandsBridging the Divide: A Third-Sector Approach to Health and DevelopmentJessica Marter-Kenyon, University of California, Berkeley, USAA Base-of-the-Pyramid Approach in Argentina: Preliminary Findings from a BOP Learning LabMiguel Angel Gardetti, Centre for Study of Corporate Sustainability, Argentina; Argentina Base of the Pyramid Learning LabTensions between Venture Capitalists’ and Business-Social Entrepreneurs’ Goals: Will Bottom-of-the-Pyramid Strategies Offer a Solution?Liisa Harjula, Helsinki School of Economics, FinlandThe Scramble for BOP Penetration in TelecommunicationsRichard Cooper and Andrew Boye, Cactel Communications, UKMisfortune at the Bottom of the PyramidAneel Karnani, University of Michigan, USA