Profit for the poor : Sustainable Market Development in BOP Markets

University essay from Högskolan i Jönköping/IHH, Företagsekonomi; Högskolan i Jönköping/IHH, Företagsekonomi


There are 4 billion poor living on 2 dollars or less per day that make up the bottom of the economic pyramid (BOP). If a company calculates their aggregated purchasing power they could be a huge and profitable market.

By studying the roles of the different actors and their preconditions in BOP markets the purpose with this thesis is to find out how the private sector can pursue a sustainable market development strategy at the bottom of the economic pyramid and if it really will help to reduce poverty.

By using a qualitative study, this thesis interviews each actor in the Mexican market except the government. Also a resume from a case study presents Unilever’s operations in Indonesia.

The theory suggests that the actors in the markets should create partnerships that lead to a social transformation and improvement in the lives of the poor. Therefore this thesis concentrates on sustainable development the entrepreneurs, government, customers and the private enterprises role in a BOP-strategy.

From the field study it is clear that it exists a huge informal system in Mexico which makes it hard for an efficient market to work. Our interviews with the NGOs shows that they have access to huge networks, work with marketbased solutions but are dependant on financial contributions from government and private sector. Both private enterprises show that they are working with both process and product innovations for the BOP-market. For example they both sell small sachets of shampoo that are affordable for the poor and they are also cooperating with local distributors to access all the small supermarkets across the country they are present in.

Essential for pursuing a BOP-strategy is that a company innovates for satisfying a need at a lower cost. They should also work with partners to get the local knowledge that they do not have themselves. The study can not come to a conclusion if the strategy under study will reduce poverty although there is a clear link between sustainability and poverty reduction. The point with sustainability in the consumer markets is that the products and services offered increases the disposable income, the choices, and the self identity of the per-son living in poverty. Only then can a BOP-strategy develop together with its market, resulting in a sustainable market development strategy, which, when pursued responsibly can lead to a triple-win situation for the poor, private enterprises and the environment.

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