Vickram Crishna offers interesting insights--and I accept that the world is more complicated and that boundaries are often blurred in practice. How do we understand the recent marketing partnership between Care and Hindustan Lever in rural India--is it business (yes) or social development (yes)? Nonetheless, until recently, few socially-minded entrepreneurs were starting for-profit businesses aimed at serving the poor, and few large companies consciously adopted strategies aimed at low-income markets, and now it is distinctly more than a few--we are looking, potentially, at a paradigm shift here.
We can measure this shift in two ways - the amount of investment aimed at serving low-income customers, or the number of households who receive goods and services that meet their needs and at prices and distribution points that they can afford/access. I like the household or customer-centered metric. So if we're serious about making a dent in poverty, ask yourself this question: how many NGOs can reliably provide service to a million customers or clients every day? How many developing country governments? Not many, in either case, although governments in some countries are learning to use ICT to provide scale in service delivery. Then ask how many large corporations can provide service to a million, or even 10 million, customers every day? The answer is pretty obvious. So if we're talking about improving the quality of life for 100's of millions of people, then we better be talking about how to use the capabilities of large companies--their management skills, logistic capability, access to finance and technology, etc., in addition to the needed efforts of NGOs and governments. To me, the most salient fact of the ITC e-choupal model (which is not perfect--not only caste, but also gender is a barrier in some areas) is that it already reaches and empowers close to 4 million farmers, and is growing rapidly. Allen L. Hammond Vice President for Innovation & Special Projects World Resources Institute 10 G Street NE Washington, DC 20002 USA V (202) 729-7777 F (202) 729-7775 [EMAIL PROTECTED] www.wri.org www.digitaldividend.org ------------ This DOT-COM Discussion is funded by USAID's dot-ORG Cooperative Agreement with AED, in partnership with World Resources Institute's Digital Dividend Project, and hosted by GKD. http://www.dot-com-alliance.org and http://www.digitaldividend.org provide more information. To post a message, send it to: <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> To subscribe or unsubscribe, send a message to: <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>. In the 1st line of the message type: subscribe gkd OR type: unsubscribe gkd Archives of previous GKD messages can be found at: <http://www.dot-com-alliance.org/archive.html>