Despite all the global technological advances in the last decades, a large share of the world population at the Base of the Pyramid (BOP), still struggles with addressing its basic needs. In the developing world, 4000 children a day die from lack of access to clean drinking water, 80 per cent of the developing world does not have access to electricity, and Kerosene use leads to 1.6 million deaths a year due to smoke inhalation or fire.
– Sasakawa Peace Foundation
Shuan Sadreghazi: I was in Tokyo in early March 2013 for a series of meetings and workshops linked to a joint project of Sasakawa Peace Foundation and UNDP on ‘Technology Incubation for the Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP)’.
The current phase of the project aims at identifying sustainable technologies as well as inclusive business models on clean energy and water for BOP. Sasakawa Peace Foundation asked me to be their research advisor for the project and also to co-organize a symposium about the topic entitled ‘Matching Technology and BOP Wants: From Good Intentions to Mutual Value Creation’ on behalf of UNU-MERIT.
Besides meeting the advisory board of the SPF/UNDP project, I also took part in two other workshops. One was at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), with representatives from the JICA private sector division. The other was at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), which featured a number of Japanese companies which have BOP projects.
The meetings aimed to discuss possible ways to identify, evaluate and link the potentially beneficial technologies of SMEs to the BOP context. There was another smaller workshop, which I also co-organized, for young Japanese participants who were interested in Social Entrepreneurship and BOP. This went by the self-explanatory title ‘No Action, No Change’.
My specific role was to link the insights from academic research in BOP with the know-how of practitioners in the field. For the project on ‘BOP Product Incubation’, I shared insights from studies on innovation and technology, specifically on the issues affecting successful diffusion of innovation in low-income markets.
Together with the project team I also helped develop evaluation frameworks to assist a feasibility study of BOP technologies in water and clean energy sectors. The Sasakawa Peace Foundation has now asked me to continue working with them for the second phase of the project. More on that soon!
by Shuan SadreGhazi, PhD fellow, UNU-MERIT. Image: UN Photo / Igor Rugwiza