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Next Generation Business Strategies for the Base of the Pyramid by Stuart L. Hart, Ted London

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Chapter 5. A Microlevel Approach to Understanding BoP Marketplaces

by Madhu Viswanathan, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign1

“The devil is in the details,” as the old saying goes. In this chapter, Madhu Viswanathan makes the case that BoP markets have to be understood at the ground level—from the bottom up—if a venture is to succeed in those marketplaces. What are the marketplace-relevant characteristics of poverty? In the one-to-one interactional marketplaces of the BoP, the boundaries between “human” and “economic” issues tend to get blurred, long-term relationships tend to trump short-term ones, “rich networks” make up for resource constraints, and consumption and entrepreneurship can be two sides of the same coin. BoP entrepreneurs, ...

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