Sustainability Innovation at the Base of the Pyramid Through Multi-Cited Rapid Ethnography
40 Pages Posted: 21 Oct 2015
Date Written: October 20, 2015
The past decade has seen a proliferation of suggestions for market-based solutions to global poverty. While research emphasizes that sustainability innovation aimed at poverty alleviation must be grounded in user needs, few studies demonstrate how to study the poor for purposes of early phase innovation in business enterprises, especially in multiple locations comparatively. This study suggests that the necessary understanding of low-income users and their practices can be gained through multi-sited rapid ethnography. We exemplify how the process moves from understanding of needs of poor toward innovation and offer a general framework for evaluating the success of these types of projects. The paper describes the challenges and solutions found in a multi-sited rapid ethnography research in urban base of the pyramid (BOP) contexts in Brazil, India, Russia and Tanzania. It suggests businesses can learn about the poor with the help this method and conduct sustainability innovation on the basis of on the needs of the poor, rather than start with existing products.
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