Better Lives Blog
Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sharing Learnings, Exchanging Ideas toward a Common Goal

Mark Martin 


children on dusty road 

Ten years ago C.K. Prahalad wrote The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, an excellent book in which he argued that multinational companies could not only make money selling to the world’s poorest population, but that undertaking such efforts was necessary as a means to close the growing gap between rich and poor countries. Since that time, many companies have looked for ways to invest in opportunities that meet the unmet needs of those living at the base of the pyramid (BoP).

The points from this book served as the basis for a panel discussion I recently had the pleasure of participating in during the Social Innovation Summit 2014 (SIS,) which was held in New York at the United Nations Headquarters. SIS is a conference that connects and inspires the world’s most potent leaders, thinkers and practitioner to discuss global challenges and catalyze dynamic partnerships that maximize social impact.  

Guardian Sustainable Business hosted a panel called “Business at the Base of the Pyramid” at SIS. The session featured some of the top academics and businesspeople working in the field and discussed the challenges and opportunities of one of the world’s largest market segments – the BoP or the poorest half of the world’s population.

I was very excited to share highlights about the great work that SC Johnson is doing in this area, and to hear about the experiences of companies and institutions like SAB Miller, Clean Star Ventures and Cornell University. Venues like this give companies a chance to share our collective learnings, exchange ideas and presents opportunities for future partnerships. While our respective industries vary, we all share a common goal of wanting to improve the lives of people who live at the base of the pyramid.  

Following the panel discussion, I also had a chance to continue the conversation about BoP during a live chat what was facilitated by Marc Gunther, editor-at-large of Guardian Sustainable Business US. It was a very informative exchange of ideas online about the role businesses’ can play in helping to end poverty in BoP countries. You can click here to read the chat transcript and learn more about the innovative and exciting work that companies are doing for BoP consumers.

I’m honored to be in such good company.

Image credit: Yojik/Shutterstock.

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