The base of the world socioeconomic pyramid is made up of more than four billion people who must subsist on less than 4 dollars per day. Based on false assumptions, such as that this population cannot be a market due to the extreme poverty in which it lives or that it needs assistance from NGOs, international bodies and governments have traditionally excluded it from the interest of companies. Nevertheless, some companies have already grasped the fact that lowincome markets are a prime business opportunity. Not only are they the largest and fastest growing segment of the world population, they also have a multitude of needs that are not being met.
The business experiences featured in this issue prove that it is possible to enter at the base of the pyramid and do so successfully. Everything depends on how the undeniable challenges are dealt with. It is a very different market than the West and thus demands efforts in order to understand and adapt to a reality that is inaccessible, though not because of its complexity. This entails being aware of the real needs of this population and meeting them with products, strategies, and business models that tend to differ from the ones used in advanced economies.
Far from being an insurmountable hurdle, these challenges act as a spur for technological innovation and strategy, which are often compatible with a guarantee of profitability. By having close ties to the base of the pyramid when developing their products and services, companies can achieve commercial feasibility while creating important social value.
Companies have generated value for both society and themselves in developed countries. Entering the base of the pyramid provides the chance to do so once again within a model of sustainable development. In addition to contributing to improving the living conditions of two-thirds of the world population, companies also have the chance to foster more sustainable growth.