Serving the World's Poor, Profitably

http://harvardbusinessonline.hbsp.harvard.edu/b01/en/common/item_detail.jhtml?id=R0209C
Authors: Prahalad, C.K.; Hammond, Allan
Source: Harvard Business Review
Year: 2002

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Abstract:

By stimulating commerce and development at the bottom of the economic pyramid, multinationals could radically improve the lives of billions of people and help create a more stable, less dangerous world. Achieving this goal does not require MNCs to spearhead global social-development initiatives for charitable purposes. They need only act in their own self-interest. How? The authors lay out the business case for entering the world's poorest markets. Fully, 65% of the world's population earns less than $2,000 per year--that's 4 billion people. But despite the vastness of this market, it remains largely untapped. The reluctance to invest is easy to understand, but it is, by and large, based on outdated assumptions of the developing world. Although individual incomes may be low, the aggregate buying power of poor communities is actually quite large, representing a substantial market in many countries for what some might consider luxury goods like satellite television and phone services. Because these markets are in the earliest stages of economic development, revenue growth for multinationals entering them can be extremely rapid. Business leaders must confront their own preconceptions--particularly about the value of high-volume, low-margin businesses--for companies to master the challenges or reap the rewards of these developing markets.



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