The importance of vision and purpose for BoP business development
Ever since the work of Prahalad and Hart opened business eyes and minds to the opportunities offered by the world’s four billion poor people who live on less than five dollars a day, there has been a corporate awakening and quite a few initiatives to access the base of the pyramid (BoP) space. We first describe some of these efforts to gain a deeper appreciation of the circumstances that led to success and failure. We then turn to the question of what your company’s vision for this BoP space is, and what it should be.
It is both costly and difficult to succeed in the BoP space, so why should a company’s vision include this space? One reason is that the purpose of the enterprise compels or at least suggests that the company should have a successful BoP business. Another reason is the Vision 2050 report, which points to the increasing importance of the BoP market. A third reason is leadership that believes in what Peter Drucker wrote many years ago, that every social problem is a business opportunity in disguise.
13Even if a company wants to operate in the BoP space for these and other reasons, both ambition and capability are required to succeed. Purpose, together with ambition and capability, then determines what a company’s BoP vision currently is, and what it should be.