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Creative use of BoP strategies to tackle MDGs

Michael Oluwagbemi's picture

The last one month has seen world leaders in both public and private spheres pledge their abiding commitments to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Central to these goals are the elimination of poverty and hunger.

It is clear to discerning minds that the goal of eliminating hunger and poverty is a daunting, albeit achievable one.  Incredible strides have already been achieved in the areas of reducing maternal mortality, and providing safe drinking waters for communities across the world. However, the central task of conquering poverty and hunger may be difficult to achieve if clear thinking and an approach seeking radical departure from orthodoxy are not adopted.

One of such strategies that should very well be adopted by both the development and business communities is the Bottom of Pyramid approach to problem solving. The central thrust of such approach is:

  • Using little to achieve more—“low cost strategies”
  • Community based solutions to problem solving (in prioritization and conceptualization)
  • Leveraging hi-tech know-how to low-tech solutions
  • Leveraging remote human resources with local connections to achieve success
  • Utilizing renewable energy and sustainable paths to creative, commonsensical solutions to everyday problems in struggling communities
  • Above all, achieving synergy amongst various components of all of the above
  • Factor social gains into profitability analysis and ROI calculations & operational decisions


Bottom of pyramid solutions have encouraged the deployment of low-powered devices that are used for early disease detection and treatments in Africa’s rural communities by Afiya Technologies, an outfit founded and operated by Africa’s Diaspora. The same strategies led to development of a chaff pellets burning stove that produces electricity in rural India, or the UV ray water disinfector that harnesses the hidden disinfecting power of the sun to produce drinkable water for rural communities in Malawi, thus helping to reach one major MDG.

Photo: Arne Hoel / World Bank