Editor's Choice

The Editor’s Choice blog is a monthly review of a top resource or report in inclusive business.  There are so many resources, documents, tools, reports, videos out there, it can be hard to know where to start.  We choose one that we like and tell you why we like it and who else should find it useful.   Until the end of 2017, Editor’s Choice blogs were written by Caroline Ashley as Hub Editor.   Going forward, they are written by a range of guest editors, both from the core team and from beyond.

Editor's Choice, August 2011: Sourcebook for overcoming barriers to inclusive business in India

South Asia
1. Aug 2011

Are you trying to assess your Base of Pyramid (BoP) market, and finding just how many different markets there are? Did you once mistake market size for market demand, or mistake 'low cost' as the defining characteristic of successful BOP products? Are you facing challenges in inclusive business and wondering whether others also struggle with internal support, external finance, or balancing demand and supply? Is your approach to inclusive business reactive, incremental, radical or transformative?

These questions, challenges, and related solutions encountered by inclusive businesses in India are snappily presented in this months's Editor's Choice: Business Innovations that Improve Lives: Ideas to Action. A sourcebook for overcoming the barriers to creating and implementing inclusive business models in India.

This 16 page 'sourcebook' is no rule book or tome. It's a compilation of highlights and insights, well dosed with diagrams and cartoons, and draws on discussions from a workshop on overcoming challenges to inclusive business, held in June in Mumbai, hosted by International Business Leaders' Forum (IBLF) and Business Call to Action (BCtA). It's an easy read, but richly provocative because it gives the 'headlines' from several bigger sets of work. It's based on Indian realities, but with wider resonance.

In just 2 pages, Manju George (Intellecap and BIF) illustrates the segementation of the BOP market, options for last mile channels, and how successful products are more than just low cost.


Another 2 pages from IBLF summarise the most common internal and external challenges experienced by business, both at conception and during inclusive business implementation.

Just as rich, 2 pages from the CII-ITC Centre for Sustainable Development, speed you through 3 approaches and 4 stages for inclusive business, making you re-assess your own.

8 case studies from Business Call to Action illustrate the issues in practice: Ballarpur Industries overcame internal hesitation over sourcing pulpwood from farmers , MCX had to find the right partner to channel financial information to dispersed farmers, and challenges for Tata Consultancy Services ranged from the weather and technicalities of communication between sensors and servers, to the need to teach farmers to use software on their phone.

Several of the case studies highlight partnerships as a key success factor, so it is no surprise that the report concludes with highlights from IBLF's spur to effective partnering, provoking readers to assess how to put their partnerships on a better footing.

Luckily, if the sixteen pages leaves you wanting more, there is plenty more that lies behind this report. See the BCTA IBLF report on inclusive business challenges, IBLF's Step by Step guide to partnering, a full workshop presentation by Manju George on inclusive business strategy, a blog on the 'last mile challenge' by Nisha Dutt (also Intellecap/BIF), and the full set of BCtA case studies. But if nuggets in one place is what you want, then this report is a good read.

For a full list of Editor’s Choice reviews since 2010 click here.