Business at the Bottom of the Pyramid. Video from Harvard Business School

Today, I started teaching the course  Business at the Bottom of the Pyramid at the International Master in Sustainable Development and Corporate Responsibility organised by the EOI. In a number of theorical and practical sessions we will cover the concept, challenges and opportunities of  new business models targeted at providing goods and services to the poorest people in the world.

These new business models are  now being taught in top business schools, including Harvard, where  C. K. Prahalad first  discussed the concept in his famous book  Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid.

In 2008 Harvard organised a Bussiness Summit with key experts  to explore Business Innovations at the Base of the Pyramid. In the following link you can find the videos and discussions that took place during the Summit: Business Innovation at the Bottom of the Pyramid.

The 4.5 billion people in the world at “the base of the pyramid” (who live on $5 per day or less) represent a $15 trillion economy—a huge under-tapped opportunity and one poised to expand as these people join global markets as consumers and producers. Capitalizing on this opportunity requires bringing basic services to poor communities in developing economies.

Increasingly, it is private-sector companies rather than NGOs or philanthropists that are able to best meet these social needs. The innovative, for-profit business models these panelists are pursuing are capitalism at its best—creative low-cost solutions to massive societal problems; generation of profit which makes these undertakings sustainable, provides capital to invest in growth and infrastructure, and attracts investors; and partnership with local communities.