Partnerships for poverty alleviation
Poverty alleviation is arguably the most burning social sustainability problem globally, and business innovation for market-based means of poverty alleviation has proliferated in recent years. Base of the pyramid (BoP) and inclusive market streams of research emphasize that such innovation calls for companies’ collaboration with untypical allies, in particular with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and local micro-entrepreneurs. Yet the research of partnerships and partner roles in BoP business models has relied predominantly on piecemeal and anecdotal evidence. To start filling the gap, this study addresses partnerships in the business models of companies in the BoP markets through a literature review and an analysis of 20 BoP business models. We provide an overview of the different kinds of partnerships that companies doing business at the BoP may form with various types of actors, such as NGOs, local micro-entrepreneurs 143and companies, government agencies, intergovernmental organizations and universities. We identify nine categories of roles that partners can take in BoP business: co-developers, suppliers, distributors, complementors, customers, microfinance providers, brokers, funders and impact assessors. Contrary to much of the BoP literature, our findings indicate that traditional partnerships with governmental organizations are also of importance for companies conducting business in BoP markets. In addition, it turns out that not only foreign but also local companies equally need partnerships with actors that are close to the BoP.