How to Empower the Bottom of the Pyramid

People living on less than $2.50 per day are classified into the bottom of the pyramid (BoP) group. There are 3 billion people within this group and the need for innovation to lower this number is urgent. Frugal innovations have been introduced to improve living conditions and processes such as water filtration, communication and transportation. However, innovations which continuously lower the number of people in the BoP community are more occasional. Alongside designing innovative, frugal products, more focus should be put on sustainable products/processes that will both improve conditions in the BoP and constantly lower the number of people within it.

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Westerners typically aren’t exposed to the BoP group unless they are researching it. Movies, television and newspapers typically do not address the root problems and solutions of BoP conditions but address factors within BoP communities that could affect the lives of westerners. For example, corporate media reports about conflicts within BoP communities but seldom about efforts to drastically help these people. For example, Akon and the co-founders began a revolutionary project called “Akon Lighting Africa” to provide renewable, affordable energy and jobs to African villages and it was ignored for weeks by corporate media.

“Today, 600 million African people still live without access to electricity, and 3.5 million people die each year from inhaling toxic fuels or house fires caused while trying to light their homes”, said Akon and his co-founders [1]. Further, they, “believe that what rural African communities need is not overseas charity but affordable renewable energy delivered by fully trained African professionals managing for-profit projects that bring longevity, generate jobs and build new self-sustaining economies.” [1]

Among improvements in water, food, and shelter accessibility, African people need jobs. This will give African communities power and spur economic development. Additional schools and research institutions can then be built to increasingly educate their population. These communities will then quickly become sustainable by creating more jobs for their constituents causing a shift towards a smaller BoP group.

Alongside drastically improving living conditions, Akon wants to empower BoP communities to become sustainable. This is the epitome of a responsible innovation. If more efforts such as this one are introduced and geared toward BoP communities, not only will standards of living increase but we will see a permanent reduction from the 3 billion people living within it today.


  1. Surtees, Joshua. ‘Akon: ‘I Don’t Think Charities In Africa Work’’. the Guardian

              N.p., 2015. Web. Oct. 2015.

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