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Bottom of the pyramid: opportunity and feasibility analysis and strategy formulation.

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ABSTRACT The year 2000 commemorated the inauguration of a millennium declaration in which 192 member countries of the United Nations pledged to achieve eight United Nations Millennium Development Goals, the first of which is the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger. These member countries committed themselves to formulating constructive approaches that will uplift impoverished communities, promote human development and halve poverty by 2015. The intensity of this mammoth undertaking had raised skepticism that the poverty alleviation efforts of government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), aid agencies and the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives of organisations in the private sector were going to be sufficient in alleviating poverty of approximately 4 billion people who are economically at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP) (Prahalad, 2005). The incredulity surrounding the existing poverty reduction tactics had created a necessity for the conceptualisation and implementation of feasible measures that will curtail the problem of poverty. Prahalad, an internationally acknowledged corporate strategist and the prolific author of the book entitled, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty through Profits, believes that a joint collaborative effort by government, NGOs, large domestic firms, multinational corporations (MNCs) as well as the poverty stricken citizens themselves can be a solution to global poverty diminution. He affirms that this alternative, unorthodox approach to poverty alleviation will yield favourable rewards for all constituents involved. This study aims to analyse the consumer behavioural practices and spending patterns of South African BOP consumers. This study also purports to analyse the viability of Prahalad’s BOP proposition within the South African context, assess how prevailing strategies need to be altered in order for MNCs to profitably serve the needs of these consumers and to articulate creative strategies that will form the basis for a model of active engagement and competitive advantage at the bottom of the pyramid. The results of this study indicate that the BOP proposition definitely has the potential to flourish within the South African context and that this is a lucrative market that can be harnessed by MNCs in order to simultaneously generate profits and enrich the well-being and standard of living of the South African BOP citizens. The recommendations generated from the results of this study provide insight into how this goal will be achieved.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.