Nottingham University Business School
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Engaging with Africa: the Next Economic Powerhouse?

Base of the Pyramid Markets in Africa: Innovation and Challenges to Sustainability 

The Business School has recently updated its Africa strategy to focus more effectively on identifying and addressing opportunities and challenges on the continent for both its students and external business partners. 

"We firmly believe that while development organisations are looking for solutions to alleviate widespread poverty, the private sector absolutely has a role to play in alleviating poverty through market-based solutions, as well as partnering and collaborating with both state and non-state actors to contribute to the sustainable development of local communities in Africa," said Dr Judy Muthuri

"Effective engagement with this diverse continent is becoming a commercial imperative for businesses around the world."

The role of the private sector in the fight against poverty

The main idea of the Base of the Pyramid (BOP) concept is that poverty can be eradicated through market transactions by an external commercial organisation “that either sells goods to, or sources products from, those at the base of the pyramid in a way that helps to improve the standard of living of the poor.

Portrait of Judy Muthuri

Over the past 15 years, in particular, a variety of organisations have continued to refine the BOP concept.  

The key question at the moment is how the ideas and principles can support a greater conceptual shift, away from singular solutions of poverty alleviation to understanding how wider innovation ecosystems and engagement through cross-sector partnership networks can be developed. 

Dr Judy Muthuri, Associate Professor in Corporate Social Responsibility, explores the concept in a recently-published book on the subject: Base of the Pyramid Markets in Africa: Innovation and Challenges to Sustainability (Routledge 2020). 


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