Tom Harrison

Tom Harrison is Technical Director at the Business Innovation Facility (BIF). Tom has 30-years’ experience in the development sector. From his early career with CDC to his more recent consultancy work, Tom’s interest and experience is in improving the lives of people living in poverty in market-based interventions, through facilitating the private sector to better address poverty and disadvantage.

Inclusive business distribution challenges

21. Feb 2019

"Distributing product across the rural market segment holds the key to how most corporations will sustain themselves over the next few years and the longer run."


So begins the executive summary of a new publication “The Base of Pyramid distribution challenge” by Sachin Shukla & Sreyamsa Bairiganjan. In their note introducing the paper the authors explain that "Taking into account the complexities of operating in rural Indian markets, this paper moves the discussion beyond a one-size-fits-all strategy for the rural market scenario. To this end, the paper presents a new analytical framework to help companies identify viable alternate distribution channels and evaluate their capabilities."


The Business Innovation Facility already has several projects where learnings from this report can be valuable. The Rural Sales Program aims to transform from a successful NGO managed project into into a for-profit company with Facility support. The Low Cost LPG Cylinder initiative in Nigeria aims to provide Nigerian households with affordable and accessible clean cooking fuels. In this project the lack of infrastructure at the “last mile” to the homes consumers, in addition to the lack of suitable/affordable product options for low income households, are two of the key reasons for limited use of LPG as the preferred cooking fuel. The Facility will support the creation of stakeholder momentum to drive the implementation of a large-scale Generic Fuel Switch campaign in Nigeria.


I'm sure we will see more such projects as the Facility goes along, and in due course be able to share our own lessons about how to address base of the pyramid distribution challenges.