Sustainability Issues in Subsistence Marketplaces.
|Madhu Viswanathan |
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
|Our proposed contribution to the discussion at the conference focuses on sustainability issues at the bottom of the pyramid or in subsistence marketplaces. We draw from a research program using qualitative and quantitative research to understand buyers, sellers, and marketplaces in subsistence contexts, a teaching initiative on product and market development for subsistence marketplaces that involves working with companies to develop product prototypes and business plans (http://www.business.uiuc.edu/~madhuv/submktcoursemainpage.html), and a social initiative on providing consumer and entrepreneurial literacy education in subsistence contexts that incorporates sustainability issues (www.marketplaceliteracy.org). Although the focus of our work has been on subsistence marketplaces and poverty alleviation, the issue of sustainability is intertwined with that of poverty alleviation. The issues we propose to discuss begin from a bottom-up understanding of buyers, sellers, and marketplaces in subsistence context. How do sustainability practices fit with consumer behavior and consumption in subsistence contexts? How should the product development process for subsistence marketplaces incorporate sustainability? How should the responsible organization be organized in terms of business processes to incorporate sustainability for subsistence marketplaces? These are some of the issues that our work to date lends itself to in terms of stimulating discussion.|