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The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  2,075 ratings  ·  114 reviews
The world's most exciting, fastest-growing new market is where you least expect it: at the bottom of the pyramid. Collectively, the world's billions of poor people have immense untapped buying power. They represent an enormous opportunity for companies who learn how to serve them. Not only can it be done, it is being done--very profitably. What's more, companies aren't jus ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published January 27th 2006 by Prentice Hall (first published July 26th 2004)
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics
This is a book to unlearn a few things and learn a lot of new concepts. If we keep the statistics aside, then it is a book that challenges its readers to see beyond the conventional logic. Read the complete review here ...more
Jan 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
A bolded statement on the first page of Chapter 1 reads:
What is needed is a better approach to help the poor, an approach that involves partnering with them to innovate and achieve sustainable win-win scenarios where the poor are actively engaged and, at the same time, the companies providing products and services to them are profitable.

This quote is a good leaping-off point for the root problems in the book.

1) By “sustainable win-win scenarios”, Prahalad refers to sustainability of profit. Whe
Feb 05, 2011 rated it liked it
There may be a fortune at the bottom of the period, but pushing greater consumptive forces onto the poor is not the answer to eradicating poverty. I would like to think that one day the pyramid model could be turned into a diamond, with the majority of the world's population being middle class. But for this to ever be possible, we must empower the poor, not profit from them. I understand that profits introduce discipline and expand market scale, but there is something fundamentally wrong with th ...more
Jan 23, 2013 rated it liked it
It can get a bit repetitive and probably could have used more editing, but the ideas are worthwhile.
This is an interesting book with ideas for alleviating poverty, by shifting the way that we think about helping the poor. As we see them as consumers - a potential market - and focus on creating goods and services that they need at the right price we will help them and be forced to innovate and come up with better ideas that will help even more people.

I admit there is a lot more I need to understand about business and economics in order to really understand each of the ideas and examples in this
Jun 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is a book with fresh, innovative ideas towards the eradication of poverty. It doesn't rail against capitalism and its exploitative instincts nor does it look at the world's poor with a condescending 'poor you' attitude. The basic proposition that the author makes is 'if we stop thinking of the poor as victims or as a burden and start recognising them as resilient and creative entrepreneurs and value-conscious consumers, a whole new world of opportunity will open up'. Though the author shows ...more
Feb 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Refreshing approach to foreign development. Prahalad (who died recently) takes the viewpoint that developed, free-market countries got where they are through private-sector innovation. Sidestepping the vicious political debates around foreign aid, he instead lays brick after brick of solid case studies showing where multi-national corporations were able to transform developing economies by simply studying them and creating products suited to the people there. He shows how this process also trans ...more
Tadas Talaikis
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics
At first I was sceptical as it sounded like some rich guys (like Gates) will come and solve Bob's (sorry, BOP) problems, but as it appears, companies inside those countries are solving the problems themselves and are inventing what they need (well, because high end tech is privatized by Rentier-circus societies from the U.S. and Europe, i.e., "the saviors"). Then, I though, let it be, I'll give it four stars, because it's still interesting and makes me think a bit. And also, let's not forget, so ...more
This is a book about how "western" firms can do business in subsistence markets, especially in the very poor parts of the world where the average income is in the hundreds of dollars a year. The focus naturally is towards developing large nations like India, China and others, such as Brazil or Russia (together the BRIC nations). The key intuition here is that firms need to think about what they do differently and develop their products differently if they are to succeed. The punchline is that th ...more
Aaron Redman
Aug 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Bottom of the Pyramid or BOP is widely used in development circles and was first defined by Prahalad in an article which eventually grew into this book. The BOP refers to the billions of people who are living on only a couple dollars a day and thus have very little individual consuming power, but summed up across billions the opportunity is massive. Prahalad saw an enormous opportunity for businesses to focus on this group of people which he believed could simultaneously make profits and improve ...more
The concept was very simple and good for companies who were not at all thinking about the poor, but I think that this book was a bit outdated when I read this. Because (a) companies do focus on profits from poor now (b) the notion of profits is no more the only factor for improving business or the lives of poor people. In fact, I would not like such an approach anymore in this heavily capitalist world because it doesn't ensure the benefit of the poor, but rather benefits of the company - which m ...more
Mar 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Excellent study on how markets can be generate welfare.

C. K. Pralhad presents an interesting study into how the Bottom-of-the-Pyramid markets are a rich source of market expansion. The symbiotic relationship that Dr. Prahalad has elaborated upon will benefit both the people at the BOP, as well as the companies seeking to expand here.

This is not a book on political science. It is book focusing on solutions to develomental issues. It presents a detailed study of several cases from across the world
Aug 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: back-2-reality
An elderly uncle of mine (my father called him Shachi da, I never got to know his real name) once went to Banaras just to read The Bhagwat Gita in its unabridged form under the supervision of a sadhu.

I find myself fortunate to work for my present client as I would not have been able to appreciate this book if I read it before I worked here. To appreciate this book you need to be in a particular frame of mind. Thanks to my work, I am in such a frame of mind.

I paid special attention to the chapte
Jul 30, 2011 rated it liked it
For anyone looking for concrete examples as to how to follow a practical route to improving the lives of the poor, the case studies in this book are great. Prahalad is at his theoretical best here, putting together a simple blueprint which is extrapolated from the collective examples and experiences with a number of cases in a number of countries.

The main issue I have with the book is the overarching emphasis on capitalism as a way out of poverty. One of the main tenets of the argument used by
Urvi Dharamshi
Feb 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book gives a effective picture of the reality at the bottom of the pyramid. What irks most people is that this book talks too much about how to sell to the poor than about how to uplift them.

Yet... After reading it i have got quite a few insights at what can be done to get the poor out of poverty. While i disagree with Prahlad whose writing implies that the increased use of shampoo in rural india is an indicator of development.. private organisations have certainly helped make inroads into
Dec 18, 2007 rated it did not like it
The content was okay but the writing and particularly editing was the worst I've ever seen. There were sections that appeared to have each paragraph written by a different person and then slapped together without an editor's review. The same paragraph would appear consecutively with just a word change or two (this happened in two spots). Topics would be introduced, only to be re-introduced slightly later. Acronyms would never be defined. The same info would be covered over and over again but wit ...more
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Sharang Limaye
May 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
'Fortune' came with a certain reputation and it certainly didn't live up to it. In fact, the word 'Fortune' in the title is a misnomer for nowhere does the author tell you how much money the featured entities make by serving the financially weak. And that makes the book just an appeal to the society's collective conscience, and not the strident call to action one had expected. The congratulatory messages from CEOs of the featured companies seem more like a returned favour than a meaningful endor ...more
Mar 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book because it helped me view the world's poorest population in a different light -- no more victim mentality, but rather as a huge market opportunity for companies willing to serve their unique needs. It's not easy and doesn't work in every case, but still interesting. Book is a bit dry, but full if interesting case studies that were new to me (and I read a lot of these types of books).
Saki Takasu
May 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that every emerging markets business development leader should read. With that said, the case studies are the few successful entities out of the many others that fail. This is a good introduction to how some of the business models work in a limited income-source setting.
Ramakrishnan M
May 03, 2010 rated it it was ok
I really liked the concept of "fortune at the botoom of the pyramid". The examples were very interesting and varied as well.

What bogged me down was the long, bland, typical "professor"ish narration... it was just too boring.
Seye Ayannuga
It's was ok. Multi-nationals can really make fortune from the so called poor countries, but this author did not talk much on 'how' to actually get the fortune.
Dennis Littrell
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A visionary's idea

On the one hand this book is endorsed by Microsoft's Bill Gates and Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. That ought give the prospective reader some idea of its value. On the other hand, it might be asked, what kind of book is this that purports to tell businessmen how to make money by selling goods and services to the poorest people on earth? After all, the poorest people that have any disposable income at all make something like two dollars a day.

First question then
Sourabh Rohilla
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an inspiring book and a very timely read (it was written around 20 years back, but is super-relevant today). CK Prahalad shows the reader how corporations can work towards solving poverty. The book is not about grants or monetary aid. It's about strategies to create ecosystems which converts Bottom of pyramid population into micro-creators and micro-consumers. The author contends that BOP is a huge market opportunity. If corporations want to unlock this market , they need to understand t ...more
Madikeri Abu
Apr 05, 2019 rated it liked it
The Fortune at The Bottom of The Pyramid by C K Prahalad, is an interesting perspective, about the untapped potential of poor people living below 2 dollars a day, called BOP (Bottom of The Pyramid). Though the book is poorly edited and the stats are pretty old (prior to 2002) the case studies are thoroughly researched, in-depth and comprehensive. Case studies especially pertaining to Jaipur Foot, Aravind Eye Hospitals, ITCs e-choupal and other socially sustainable responsible entities make an in ...more
Jason Carter
Feb 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Don't let the critics scare you off. Cynics may warn that Wharton professor CK Prahalad's book is a recipe for exploitation of the poor. Ie, seeing them only as a "market" for greedy capitalists.

A more charitable reading is that Prahalad may be onto something: eg, that market solutions involving the poor are much more likely to endure than paternalistic government programs that helicopter in funds to lift the poor from their condition.

He examines the underlying logic of these programs and offers
Brian Sheets
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
Prahalad does an excellent job of detailing the importance of "teaching others to fish", reaching down to lift someone out of their current circumstance to provide them an opportunity for success in business. While some major corporations have embraced this concept, there is plenty of room for others to join this cause.
Paige Kilian
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fascinating concepts, particularly-for me- those related to healthcare delivery. Jaipur Foot and Aravind Eye Hospitals blew me away.
The case studies were a bit of a slog 😊
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Get the basic and new thinking about poverty and it's solutions. You will be amazed to understand how much they are profitable of business.
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This great visionary and guide in social enterprise is unfortunately no longer with us. But this book is a must for people working in development programmes
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was the Paul and Ruth McCracken Distinguished University Professor of Corporate Strategy at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business in the University of Michigan, USA.

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“When the poor at the BOP are treated as consumers, they can reap the benefits of respect, choice, and self-esteem and have an opportunity to climb out of the poverty trap.” 2 likes
“I have no doubt that the elimination of poverty and deprivation is possible by 2020.” 2 likes
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