Staff Correspondent

Need to look at the poor as business partners, innovators stressed

Empowerment of low income communities seen as essential to sustainable growth

Udupi: Home Minister V.S. Acharya said on Saturday that serving the “bottom of pyramid customers” was relevant not only to the industry but also to all stakeholders, including the Government.

He was speaking after inaugurating the T.A. Pai Centre for Inclusive Growth, and a conference on “Serving the bottom of pyramid customers”, organised by the T.A. Pai Management Institute (TAPMI) here. Dr. Acharya said that this objective connected the Government with its important responsibilities of poverty alleviation and empowerment of the poor. The term “Bottom of Pyramid (BOP)” referred to four billion people living on less than two dollars a day as first defined in 1998 by C.K. Prahalad. A majority of this four billion people were living in India, he said. There were tremendous benefits to the industry in serving these markets. “However, there will be other benefits accruing from the poverty reduction if the industry works, in harmony with the social organisations and the local governments, towards creating new local business models,” he said.

The BOP population should be looked at as business partners and innovators rather than just potential producers or consumers. This would enable companies to develop business partnership with low-income communities and result in the co-creation of business and markets that would benefit both the companies and the communities. “This is a market-based approach that focuses on poverty alleviation and is an integral part of sustainable development,” Dr. Acharya said.

The growing micro-credit in India could be cited as an example of BOP. With technology having become affordable and accessible to the people, it was now possible to lend small amounts to people with even smaller assets, he said.