How do you profitably sell to a customer who earns less than $2 per day?
It is probably the most daunting business question in the world. As well as the most important, because that’s the earning power of nearly one third of humanity, the 2 billion people at the so-called “base of the pyramid.”
The challenge is immense. The typical base-of-pyramid customer lives in a remote rural village, in a cramped hut with no clean running water, electricity, or indoor toilet. The household is typically illiterate, unreachable by traditional marketing channels, has no savings or access to affordable credit, and is dangerously vulnerable at any moment to disease, injury, or natural disaster.
And yet a new kind of entrepreneur is springing up who sees things differently, for whom business is the best way to fight poverty.
These social entrepreneurs view their customers—the world’s poorest people—as collectively comprising the world’s largest under-served market, with an annual purchasing power of over $1 trillion. For them, creating businesses to serve this market is both a massive opportunity as well as a moral duty.
Here are some of the strategies they’re using to change the world:
1. Recruit and empower local changemakers
2. Build a movement, not just a market
3. Embrace competition
4. Motivate with mission, not money
5. Maximise distribution, not profits