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Evaluating local impact: A study of “BoP as Producer” ventures.
Ted London
William Davidson Institute/Stephen M. Ross School of Business
at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.
E-mail: tlondon@umich.edu
Over the past several years, a base-of-the-pyramid (BoP) perspective has gained considerable
prominence in both the corporate and development communities. From a corporate point-of-view,
the BoP is presented as a new business opportunity. For the development community, the BoP
perspective has been put forward as a new approach to alleviating poverty and achieving
sustainable development.
Indeed, the intriguing aspect of the BoP perspective is the role that a BoP enterprise can play in
mutual value creation. The BoP perspective emphasizes that both the organization launching the
venture and the communities in which it operates can benefit; profits and poverty alleviation can
be synergistic.
Interestingly, while the BoP perspective views the BoP as both a market to sell goods and
services and a market to source products, nearly all the research to date has focused on the
former. Indeed, a crucial and increasingly untenable gap remains in our understanding of what is
referred to as “BoP as producer” ventures. In these ventures, those at the BoP are the producers
of goods, such as agricultural products, handicrafts, and housing and other materials, that are
sourced to non-local markets. If we are, in fact, to truly appreciate the role of BoP enterprises in
poverty alleviation, we must develop a much better understanding of the strategies these BoP
ventures are employing and how effective they are at sustainable development, including
environmental stewardship.
Given the growing interest in the BoP perspective,1 this discontinuity between practice and
research needs to be filled. As such, the goals of this study are twofold: (1) to identify and
categorize the different types of “BoP as producer” ventures and (2) to better understand the key
factors that influence the poverty alleviation outcomes, including environmental impacts, of
these ventures.
1 See, for example, the Inter-American Development Bank’s BoP-oriented “Opportunity for the Majority” initiative:
http://www.iadb.org/BOP/.
 

All Submissions
8:00 AM-8:00 PM, Friday, June 15, 2007, Oral

The Ontario, Canada 2007 Meeting