Acumen Blog

Base of the Pyramid Themes Underpin India’s Elections

Editor’s Note: New blogger Uma Hemachandran is a Portfolio Associate based in Hyderabad.

The next Indian general elections are due soon, and one crucial battle line in the upcoming election will be the parties’ interest in addressing the bottom of the pyramid.

Recently, opposition leader Lal Krishna Advani of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) declared that “…a whole new world will open up if we stop seeing the poor as victims or as a burden and start recognizing them as resilient and creative entrepreneurs and value conscious consumers.”

(Interestingly, Mr. Advani borrowed his words verbatim from BoP strategist C.K. Prahalad. If that’s not an endorsement of the BoP approach, then I don’t know what is.)

Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, P. Chidambaram, the current finance minister of India and a Congress party man, noted that “sections left out, such as farmers, people belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and Backward Classes, minorities and those working in small occupations, must be brought into the mainstream.”

While Congress and BJP have their own versions of the addressing inclusive growth, the truth is that the bottom of the pyramid will have much to cheer about no matter which party comes to power.

That said, the challenge in India is (as always) the last mile – ensuring that policy benefits actually reaches the intended people. The benefits of privatisation have been around for people to see in telecom and road infrastructure development, and this direction will not be reversed. It will not be a surprise if the government encourages private players to help breach the last mile barrier in many sectors including those areas that Acumen operates in (health, housing, water and energy). The government, irrespective of political affiliations, is likely to encourage partnerships with groups and enterprises who can deliver efficiently to the BoP.

Those of us at Acumen are excited and look forward to a new breed of entrepreneurs – perhaps inspired by politicians – that are addressing the problems of poverty.

Comments

Why India’s Economic Growth Depends on Vocational Training

India has an enormous population of young people – over half of the 1.2 billion people are younger than 25 years old. Yet, only 2% of its 500 million person workforce has any skills or training. The majority work in the informal sector (90%), where there are few opportunities for education other than what workers ‘pick up’ on the job. This reality limits overall productivity, as well as upward mobility. [Read More]

Letter from Jacqueline: My Week in Ghana

I am writing on a return flight from Ghana. The country has not seen a single case of Ebola, yet the impact of fear is profound. As travelers enter the country, attendants screen for high temperatures. Hand sanitizer dispensers are omnipresent. Hotels and conferences have seen massive cancellations. Everywhere are constant reminders of our fragility and the strength of our connectedness. [Read More]

Six online courses we’re taking this year

+Acumen’s free online courses are a great way to learn tools that will help you develop both professionally and personally. Whether you are a social entrepreneur who wants to market to your customers or a young professional that wants to strengthen your leadership skills, we are offering six courses this Fall that will help you develop the tools, knowledge, and networks to change the way the world tackles poverty. [Read More]

Four Emerging Leaders Building the Future of Pakistan

With 60% of Pakistan’s population living under less than a dollar a day, the external narrative of Pakistan is characterised by what the country lacks; a lack of security, a lack of women’s rights, a lack of access to education, and the list goes on. What this narrative ignores are the individuals who work tirelessly to plug those gaps. From human rights to education to food security, Acumen Pakistan Fellows are affecting change through organizations committed to tackling poverty. Their work is truly inspiring, promising a hopeful future for Pakistan. Here are four fellows that are building this future for Pakistan and come together periodically to share learning experiences and grow as leaders. Through five seminars, the fellows have strengthened skills of adaptability, communication, empathy and problem solving through listening. If you are committed to creating change in your community, apply now to be an Acumen Pakistan Fellow. The deadline is 29 September. [Read More]

Acumen Partners with AlphaSights to Better Access Global Expertise

In our work investing in social enterprises that deliver critical goods to the poor, there is a substantial amount of work to evaluate each investment opportunity. A critical part of the diligence process, particularly when it comes to emerging markets, is speaking with industry experts who can provide reliable information about sector trends, market dynamics and public policy – all of which affect our evaluation of potential investment opportunities. [Read More]

DE-BUNKING THE BURDEN MYTH: IMPACT DATA GOES LEAN

Our manifesto begins, “it starts by standing with the poor.” Yet for good reasons, the sector has found it challenging to measure which customers are actually being served through social impact investments – getting accurate data on incomes is notoriously difficult and the logistical challenge and cost of conducting surveys in person prohibitive. [Read More]

Questions for Aspiring Leaders

Bavidra Mohan, Acumen’s India Fellows Manager, attended this years Aspen IDEAS festival as a Scholar. The Scholarship program was established to invite guests from around the world to bring a diverse set of experiences, voices and perspectives to the rich conversations that take place at the IDEAS festival each year. [Read More]