Changing lives at the bottom of the pyramid.
"The fundamental premise of our work at the School is that business acts to improve the quality of life. But the global market system serves only about one-third of the world's 6.2 billion people. With an issue as complex and multilayered as global poverty and inequality, academia can serve most effectively as a galvanizing force—helping forge cross-sector partnerships with business, government, and NGOs that achieve scalable results."
Professor Kash Rangan,
Co-Chair, HBS Social Enterprise Initiative
According to recent World Bank statistics, nearly half the world's population — about 2.8 billion people — survive on less than $2 a day, with nearly 20 percent living on less than $1 a day. In December 2005, 120 academics and leaders in the business,nonprofit, and government sectors from around the world converged on the HBS campus to explore how serving bottom-of-the-pyramid markets can be profitable while helping improve the lives of the world's impoverished populations. Building on earlier field research by HBS faculty, "A Conference on Global Poverty: Business Solutions and Approaches" focused on successful business models, the role of civil society and government, and the ethical and operational challenges faced by enterprises that seek out the poor as customers. Important new research streams were identified and next steps were explored, including an ongoing seminar series. A book will be published in 2007 summarizing the event's findings.