Category Archives: bottom of the pyramid

Why you need to go beyond the numbers to view rural poverty

In the past decade, much progress has been made in India and people have been justifiably proud of the improving economic situation. While most observers point to the top line numbers that show the number of people living below the “poverty line” has been consistently decreasing, by focusing on just these aseptic numbers, they fail to understand and capture the continuing anguish in the rural countryside. Continue reading

How to multiply your social impact 2X to 6X

In 2005 Kiva launched a website that allowed individuals to provide small loans to needy entrepreneurs around the world. The money was directed through microfinance institutions (MFIs) to their customers. When the site launched it had only 7 businesses in Uganda. Then their story got picked up by the Daily Kos and donations started flooding their site. With all the subsequent publicity Kiva was unable to line up beneficiaries fast enough to keep up with the donations coming in and for a while had to put a hold on its site.

Fast forward to 2008, Bala Vishwanath, an alum of top Indian tech and management schools – IIT and IIM – saw an opportunity to unstick the Kiva bottleneck and to multiply the social impact of every dollar. He quit his job and worked to setup www.UnitedProsperity.org United Prosperity helps provide loan guarantees that enable poor entrepreneurs to borrow from Microfinance Institutions to build their enterprises in developing countries. Continue reading

Reply to comment about Rural Indian Consumer

In response to my recent post on Rural Consumers, Joost Bonsen of MIT commented.

Thanks much for your survey of the rural consumer landscape in India. I’m curious how what you’re observing either reinforces or differs from the Hart-Prahalad BOP thesis and the cases they give, such as Hindustan Lever, etc. Plus how much of the consumer goods sector is dominated by MNCs or affiliates versus homegrowns? And finally, what’s the rural analog to Walmart or the old Sears Roebuck catalog or other innovations in the distribution systems?

I got to thinking about what he had asked and decided to write up a separate post instead of replying as a comment. So here goes. Continue reading

The Blue Sweater a book by Acumen Fund founder Jacqueline Novogratz

I had gotten a copy of Acumen Fund founder, Jacqueline Novogratz’s, book “The Blue Sweater” a couple of months ago and had kept promising myself that I would read it. Finally as I was leaving on a short trip to India, I threw it in my bag hoping to get to it during my visit. As the long 15 plus hour trip from Newark to Bombay stretched before me, I settled myself in as best as I could and opened the book expecting to read a few pages and then sleep as much as possible for the rest of the flight.

Once I started reading I was hooked. Before I knew it I had plowed through the entire volume. This is an extraordinary and powerful book. My personal interest in social entrepreneurship, particularly in solving issues in the developing world, had led me to peruse many books in the field – from the seminal one by David Bornstein to Jeff Sachs and Prof. Yunus. Each provided a perspective on development with solutions and suggestions. Yet somehow this book was different. Continue reading

The Increasing Focus on the Rural Indian Consumer

I have been in India for the past week and one of the trends I have noticed is the increased focus on the rural market. Perhaps it is the ongoing elections or maybe the global recession, but companies across the board seem to have a renewed emphasis on targeting the rural consumer.

Culling thru the headlines there are a few key facts that seem to stand out: Continue reading