The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid


For the last week or so I had been reading C.K. Prahalad’s The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid. The author has popularized both the concept and the book well.

The first thing that strikes me about the book, is that it can be one-fourth of its size. In the case study, the author has written everything at least 3-4 times.

C. K. Prahalad’s The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid

My key takes from the book are:

  1. At the bottom of the pyramid (BOP), what is needed most is enabling the people. Also providing them enough dignity for them to be able to self-drive themselves and the communities around them.
  2. Women play a key role in the uplifting of economic standards in this stratum of society. And this holds true around the world. Whether it is at CEMEX in Mexico, Shakti Ammas at HLL rural reach programs, or self-help groups(SHG) for microfinance initiatives at ICICI. They are the ones who take the changes through the length and breadth of society by taking care of their families and then the groups that they are a part of.
  3. Contrary to the popular notion, BOP is a low-risk game. Most financial institutions ignore this market time and again. As they think the risk is very high, but the data available actually supports otherwise. Bad debts are as low as they can be. It is a low-margin, high-value game, but the risk associated is far less than in the established markets.

It is a landmark book that makes you think about the big markets that exist at the base of society. The book has ample examples from around the world of how some people have cracked the code for working for these markets. The research done by Dr. Prahalad and his team is worth admiring.

You may buy this book – The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid Eradicating Poverty through Profits by Dr. C. K. Prahalad at Amazon.

Recommend you read the review of The new age of Innovation by C K Prahalad & M S Krishnan.

Fortune at the bottom of pyramid by C K Prahalad

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  1. Well Anu, I must confess, I actually never imagined that by writing down the points as in a book review, you yourselves get to reflect many of the existant notions, because you need to quantify things, because u need to establish the difference between your thoughts, which could have been influenced by the book, and more importantly, you need to effectively capture the essence of what you got from the book. Normally, it is not possible to enlist the points that u found in reading the book thru a summary, as it just takes away the whole fun you might have received through it, but you have attempted to do just that, laudable, especially in a biz related book, which is quite incoherent as far as takeaways are concerned(no offence intended, just my opinion).
    Just a question: What does this pyramid signify? and though I am not particularly fond of the biz books which deal with different cases, this one does interest me – would like to read it (I am also doing my MBA, which is all the more reason y I should be interested in it)
    If you have not read it, I would suggest the book – Unleashing the Idea virus, by Seth Godin. It should give you an interesting time.


  2. Instead of deciding “what is needed most is enabling the people and providing them enough dignity for them to be able to self drive themselves and the communities around themselves”, it would be perhaps useful to start asking questions what the BoP really needs. Activities to fulfill their needs and aspirations need not wait till the needs assessment of the entire BoP is known. Even local assessments followed by small, but concrete steps would help, as building blocks for the betterment of BoP. In this process there is plenty of place for both women and men.

    To understand “What does this pyramid signify?” search the web for Bottom of the Pyramid and you can download and read several articles.

    Read also Clayton Christensen’s books on Disruptive Innovation, apply these ideas for the needs of BoP and you will probably help the BoP as well as embarking on new business initiatives. – Prabhu


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