The Next Billions: Unleashing Business Potential in Untapped Markets

In 2008, the Forum initiated a new project to assess commercially viable business models that can improve livelihoods and strengthen food value chains in poor regions - and to define the actions needed to scale up such approaches. This project was conducted in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Boston Consulting Group, and championed by the Consumer Industries community of the World Economic Forum. It combined insights from three cross-industry, multi-stakeholder regional roundtables (in Africa, Asia and Latin America) with a broad research survey and collection of over 200 case studies, synthesizing the results into two reports.

The World Economic Forum is pleased to present this report on innovative approaches through which companies across a broad range of industries can tap the economic potential of the “base of the pyramid” (BOP), generating sustainable economic growth while improving the livelihoods of the poor.

This report's goal is to define commercially viable business strategies that can help reduce poverty and hunger. It is based on a broad research survey plus three cross-industry, multi-stakeholder roundtables conducted in Latin America, Africa and Asia during 2008. The research survey included review of 60 reports and collection of 200 case studies from primary and secondary sources. The roundtables provided ground-level insights from practitioners – ranging from multinational and regional companies to social entrepreneurs – who are pioneering these business models on the ground. The project team also drew on the prior work of numerous thought leaders in this arena.

The business strategies outlined in this report form part of a rapidly-evolving frontier of BOP business initiatives worldwide. Undertaken by global and local companies – often in partnership with other organizations – they represent the highly dynamic business innovation being applied in fast-growing BOP markets.

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