May 2010
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Book Review : The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid

Think of how often the Western World has treated a developing country as merely a cheap manufacturing center to produce goods and re-export them, only to find that, in time, those countries (China or Thailand and others) actually made pretty good markets themselves with increasing profit potential. As local incomes rose, so did the demand for goods--which further increased the standard of living of the local people and the profits of the companies that served their needs.

Prahalad's "Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid" is perhaps the best articulated argument for a massive corporate war on poverty--even if profits are the only motive. They are not, of course, the only motive; nor are they the most important motive--but if they can be the agent of change that will lift hundreds of millions of people from abject poverty, disease, and a life with no opportunities for upward mobility to a life of better education, healthcare, and yes, buying power, then everyone wins.

The book doesn't preach or lecture to the reader; if anything it provides a sound, compelling argument backed up by real, dramatic, solid examples of why and how eradicating poverty through corporate profits is not only possible, but necessary, and beneficial for everyone involved. The case studies, presented in both great detail and with hard numbers, illustrate how realizing this blueprint is something possible, and, in fact, the tip of the iceberg to a new era of prosperity for developed and developing nations alike. This is one book that's not just food for thought, but a call to action IN ‘The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid’, CK Prahalad advocates (and goes on to prove) a concept that would be difficult for many to accept: The poorest segment of the society could actually be the largest and fastest-growing market for companies. This segment, often referred to as the ‘bottom of the pyramid’ or ‘BoP’, forms the largest section of the consumers, but is often overlooked by marketers due to its low purchasing power. Collectively, however, this section has immense potential. Prahalad proposes that fostering entrepreneurship at the grassroots level can empower the poor and raise them from poverty whilst generating sizeable profits for companies. In the book, the author demonstrates how companies can innovate to tap this market more effectively, and, in doing so, increase their own competitiveness.

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