You may not be Bill Gates or Warren Buffet with billions to give to end poverty, but you might have more profits in your business if you looked at your customers differently.
Can organizations be socially responsible and make money? The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (Wharton Press, 2006) turns this question to how to make money from being socially responsible and challenges global organizations to commit to eradicating world poverty.
Say it can't be done? Think again. Proctor & Gamble sells as many metric tons of high-end Pantene hair care products to the poor in India as it sells to the entire population in the United States. But to do so they had to question their assumptions about the poor and do business with them differently. And some business models just won't work--but that is true with every business endeavor.
C.K. Prahalad's uplifting book provides extensive case research to dispel six myths about the poor and how they have limited businesses from the "fortune at the bottom." While this book is oriented to consumer goods, business-to-business organizations need to understand how to be better suppliers in these endeavors. Moreover, as I read the book, I wondered if all organizations don't develop myths about segments of potential buyers. How self-limiting might that be?
Reading this book stimulated me to question notions about customers--and opportunities missed. Are there "doing well by doing right" projects that could put new traction in your business?
Do you have an illustration of doing well by doing right? Email me or comment below.
More on Social Responsibility . . .The December 2006 Harvard Business Review features two articles on social responsibility. The article by Porter and Kramer provides good illustrations of how and in what ways to tie social responsibility to competitiveness and in your business value chain.
Another book, Untapped (Berrett-Koehler, 2006), offers US examples of how to tap into value for your business. Whether you are experiencing problems finding qualified employees, identifying new markets, accelerating product innovation or improving your reputation and brand, authors John Weiser, Michele Kahane, Steve Rochlin and Jessica Landis find plenty of examples of US social responsibility that resulted in more profitable business. Easy to read, it provides sidebars with key points of what and how to handle various opportunities and difficulties in your organization.
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