Base of the Pyramid: Business Innovation and Social Impact

Course Code

3 hours
Junior or Senior Standing

Base of the Pyramid: Business Innovation and Social Impact --- Business can, and indeed must, play a greater role in responding to society's grand challenges. The deep poverty faced by the Base of the Pyramid (BoP) - the 4-5 billion poorest people on this planet and constituting approximately two-thirds of humanity - presents a challenge on the grandest scale. While donation-based approaches have their place, the promise of achieving both profits and social impact through market-based approaches offers an exciting alternative. Business opportunities in health care, energy, agriculture, sanitation, housing, education, consumer goods, clean water and other impact areas can lead to a more inclusive capitalism. The challenge is to build enterprises that are sustainable at scale in an impoverished and unfamiliar market context. The course integrates concepts of strategy, international business, entrepreneurship, non-profit management, and development to stimulate the leadership skills and competitive imagination needed to design, pilot, and scale BoP enterprises. Emphasizing action-based learning and using carefully selected cases, readings, videos, and outside guests, class sessions focus on: 1)identifying the opportunities and challenges associated with serving BoP markets; and 2) developing a toolkit of strategies, frameworks, and processes for building sustainable, scalable enterprises that create economic and social value.