Monday, February 05, 2007

Its more than just selling to the poor

A new volume out from Harvard Business Press, Business Solutions and the Global Poor, makes the case that selling to the "bottom of the pyramid" is not the endgame - building financial and social resources with the poor should be an integral part of doing this work. The big mind shift (big for corporations, at least) is to see the four billion people around the globe who live on less than $5 a day as producers, not just potential consumers.

That this recognition is seen as a 'breakthrough' illustrates my point about the two sides of the coin that must be considered when thinking about markets, philanthropy, and social issues. The side that sees poor people as consumers is akin to those who are trying to blend business and philanthropy with a primary goal of making more philanthropic assets available to commercial investment firms. The side that sees poor people as producers is akin to the side that sees the financial markets as revenue generators for social solutions.

Consumers. Producers. Is it too much to ask that we consider these 4 billion people as people?

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