The BoP takes command

SeminarĀ  on the Base of the Pyramid, February 7th Mumbai.

The seminar yielded interesting albeit diverting approaches. Some tended to put all their faith in the present mass production ecosystem and suggested that only super high tech could reduce unit prizes by massifying production. Pretty much the way a CD player may cost almost nothing in Western money once you manage to sell enough of them.

However logically that may sound, it also implies that without BIG industry no solutions will emerge. After all, super mass production presupposes high investments in tooling and logistics, lengthy and costly IP issues and sophisticated development. It also means the BoP will have to wait for BIG industry to take an interest in them.

My statement at the seminar addressed the issue of how organizations should interact with the people they are addressing. My central theme was that if we are to have any hopes of creating meaningful solutions, we should aim at putting the millions in the driver seat: BoP solutions are to be proposed, developed and executed by the very people that make up the BoP and not by any sort of small elite no matter how good their intentions may be.

That seems to me a big problem associated with the Super High Tech approach. And as the seminar played through my head the days after, more problems popped up that I will adress in a couple of these blogs.

To begin with, the Super High Tech approach is a continuation of Targeting, depicting the BoP as consumers. Social media demonstrates to us to how healthly it may be to shift away from envisioning the market as consumers and instead treat them as producers. Maybe we should even go as far as considering these producers as co-workers and strike business deal with them. It appeares to me that, much more than the west, BoP people value entrepreneurship and craftsmanship. In spite of the obvious hardships, the Slum radiates a much more positive attitude and drive than most western unemployment offices!

To be continued...

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