DPU Working Paper - No. 170
Is BOP2 pro-poor? A theoretical analysis from a development perspective
3 November 2014
Author: Shovon Kibria
Publication Date: May 2014
Although interest surrounding Base of the Pyramid (BOP) markets and development initiatives has grown rapidly in the past decade, the academic discourse on this topic has remained underdeveloped. The existing BOP literature is largely business-centric, and rarely deviates from a fundamental BOP proposition involving only private companies and poor communities, and the concomitant effects BOP enterprises have on a corporate level. Although the BOP perspective has evolved in considering the needs of the poor more directly, an analysis on the effectiveness of current BOP strategy as a poverty alleviation mechanism remains lacking.
This paper attempts to address this gap by evaluating the latest BOP strategies from a development perspective, and argues they are unlikely to deliver the expected gains from a profit-making or poverty alleviation angle. This paper also explores alternative applications of the BOP paradigm, suggesting BOP strategies could ultimately be most effective as development tools employed by non-private sector agents. Although governments and NGOs are moving in this direction by starting to embrace BOP ideas, there is still no discourse on whether the public rather than the private sector should be leading BOP policy implementation.