In his book, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP): Eradicating Poverty through Profits, C.K. Prahalad contends that the bottom of the economic pyramid can be a viable growth market. Prahalad further states, “Involvement in BOP markets will challenge assumptions that mangers in multi-national corporations have developed over a long period of time. A new philosophy of product development and innovation that reflects the realities of BOP markets will be needed”.
Prahland identifies twelve principles in his book that constitute the building blocks of innovation in BOP markets. In his fourth principle, Prahalad contents that solutions for BOP markets cannot be based on the same patterns of resource use utilized in developing countries. Instead, Prahalad suggests that solutions for BOP markets must be sustainable and eco-friendly.
The power behind this proposition is overwhelming but achievable. Throughout Prahalad’s book the case is made that MNCs cannot enter BOP markets with a business-as-usual approach. And while some MNCs might find the idea of developing new products and services for a BOP consumer feasible, an added requirement of sustainability could deter some MNCs from pursuing business further.
The reality is, however, that the Indian culture inherently values efforts and products that are sustainable and eco-friendly. Throughout my travels in India, I observed the Indian people being resourceful at every turn. In Delhi, I would see families rummaging through trash for recyclables or other items for which they could find an efficient use. Farmers in rural areas save methane-rich cow patties to use as a renewable source of fuel. Getting the most value out of every available resource is truly characteristic of the Indian way.
Instead of being stymied by the proposition of incorporating sustainability into expansion plans, perhaps MNCs should simply look to the innovative nature of the Indian people to see how sustainability can be brand-value maximizer in developing markets.