María Jesús Pérez: Technologies and Services for the Base of the Pyramid: Challenges and keys to maximize its social impact

By María Jesús Pérez, Director of the Department of Research and Social Innovation,  FUNDACIÓN CODESPA

In recent years, innovative inclusive economic development strategies have been explored by development agencies, NGOs and business sector. This path has led to the consideration of the poorest and most vulnerable population, the so-called Base of the Pyramid (BoP), as a huge collective with capacity to generate economic dynamics and assume a role as customers and consumers able to acquire goods and services that fulfill their needs.

However, the development strategies of the BoP that seek to solve social problems through the provision of technologies and services for vulnerable populations have to face several challenges. One is to reach the target with the type of technology or product that can solve a need, overcoming preconceptions about the demands of the poor. Another is to work with an approach based in sustainability, trying to generate market dynamics that ensure long-term access to these products and services, instead of being dependent on aid.  And yet another is to integrate an inclusive and equitable focus that not only considers the BoP as a market, but as a group of people who can actively participate and become producers, suppliers or distributors of those technologies and services. This allows to transcend the focus from ‘Base of the Pyramid markets" to find strategies that truly take advantage of these opportunities in order to generate wealth in a more equitable and inclusive way.

These strategies require a different concept from the traditional way of doing 'business' or the traditional way of dealing with a cooperation project. It has to find a balance between the economic and the social dimensions. And if this balance is to contribute to reducing poverty and improving the quality of life it has to be done with a solution that is economically viable and sustainable over time. So many challenges, dilemmas and the need for innovation are behind this type of interventions.

Technologies and services, from many different sectors such as health, water and sanitation, energy, education, agriculture… there is a new open field to explore, where innovation and alliances between cooperation actors, the private sector and the public sector reach a strategic meaning. The future outlook for the promotion of public-private partnerships addressing development goals will be a scenario in which such strategies will become more relevant in terms of achieving substantial objectives in poverty alleviation.

With the aim of providing a learning and discussion forum around the challenges, key elements and experiences that have followed these types of strategies, and for those organizations that are likely to implement them, CODESPA Foundation (, in collaboration with Business Fights Poverty, IESE Business School and Forética, and the support of AECID (Spanish Agency of Development) and Fundación Profesor Uría, is organizing a conference on: Technologies and services for the Base of the Pyramid: Challenges and keys to maximize its social impact


The conference will be held 6th November in Madrid (Spain). Organizations of reference in this field such as International Development Enterprises (iDE), GIZ, Coca-Cola Bottle Company o FrontlineSMS will participate at the event. Likewise we will be accompanied by some Spanish organizations such as Fundación Acciona Microenergía, Gas Natural Fenosa and the “Innovation Centre of Technologies for Human Development” of Politécnica University of Madrid (itdUPM).

Any organization, enterprise or professional interested in attending the conference, is invited. And yes, it´s free!

For further information on the conference click here to download the brochure.  To register your interest in attending please email innovació


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