September 6, 2013

SOCAP13 Session Recap: The Business Solution to Poverty

SOCAP Global Post Author

Not many people can be credited with helping 20 million people living on less than $2/ day lift themselves out of poverty. Yet, Paul Polak and his team were able to do so, by harnessing the power of free enterprises and working with market based approaches to reach massive scale and impact. Sharing from his book The Business Solution to Poverty, and life experience working at Windhorse International, Paul shared with the audience insights and principles that helped his team navigate success at the bottom of the pyramid.
Food for thought from this session:

  1. It’s important to treat poor people as customers with all the same attitude about commerce instead of mere recipients of charity. By listening to and valuing local inputs, by using aspirational branding to target potential consumer groups at the bottom of the pyramid, it is possible to get products that can greatly improve quality of life out to market.
  2. Doing good and making money is not only possible, it should be central. The business solution to poverty should be able make a lot of money by achieving massive scale, to attract major global investors and private capital for sustainable success.
  3. One participant asked how we can ensure villagers are co-creators and co-owners of revenue generating products. Part of the answer lies in empowering local communities by employing local staff and exploring models such as income sharing with local shopkeepers.

Overall, it was an interesting discussion on how to transform business and transform poverty at the same time.

By SOCAP13 Volunteer Dora Heng

Impact Investing / Social Entrepreneurship
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