Here at LSE, I am taking a fascinating pilot course about the business innovation for the Base of the Pyramid. It is organized by LSE’s Department of Management and Innovation and Co-Creation Lab and is taught by Professor Harry Barkema. This year the course is “pilot,” which means it’s a test-drive that will hopefully result into adding the course to formal curriculum of the School.
As the syllabus reads, in this course
we will share, review, apply and co-create new insights and frameworks (to understand), and methodologies and tools (to design, implement, innovate and improve) business models at the BOP that work. It is part of a much larger, coherent set of activities at the LSE to co-create, share, review, and apply knowledge and capabilities and to provide systemic measurements of impact, together with our partners across the world in academia, companies, social entrepreneurs, NGOs and governments. The ultimate aim is to (help to) innovate/improve, implement, and scale economically sustainable models that have a significant measurable impact on serving needs at the BOP. Where “sustainable” means systemic funding from customer payments, donors, governments and/ or companies, with an eye to maximizing payments from customers, if possible and desirable, to make it economically sustainable.
It doesn’t just sound great, it is great! At the last meeting we have discussed different business models that are already employed in ventures at the BOP. This week we will look at the ways to engage the users, local community and others in the process of co-creation of business models.
We have a great reading list and (even though I already have piles of work for LSE) I am going to share some of my ideas and reflections on the pages of this blog.
For those who have read Prahalad’s The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, don’t get too enthusiastic or skeptical: what we are doing in this course is actually looking at what is the BOP, what can work there, and how can business can create value for the communities at the BOP. Fortune-making is not really the part of the course.