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March 11, 2009 / compassioninpolitics

The BOP Protocol | Principles for Bottom of the Pyramid

What is the BOP Protocol?

The BOP Protocol:

…is a co-venturing process that integrates within a corporate entrepreneurship framework leading-edge thinking across a range of fields, including economic anthropology, international development, empathy-based design, and environmental management. As one senior manager familiar with the process describes, “it is a structured approach to a non-structured challenge.”5 Central to the BoP Protocol are the principles of “mutual value” and “cocreation.”

By mutual value, we mean that each stage of the process, not simply the new business, creates value for all partners in terms important to each. The “co-” component of “co-creation” captures the need for the company to work in equal partnership with BoP communities to imagine, launch, and grow a sustainable business. Co-development catalyzes business imagination and ensures the business model is culturally-appropriate and
environmentally sustainable by building off of local resources and capabilities. Importantly, it also expands the base of local entrepreneurial capacity. Key principles, techniques, and methods have been adapted from the fields of “participatory rural appraisal” (PRA)6 and “asset-based community development” (ABCD).7

The base of the pyramid protocol is based on a handful of core ethical principles:

Operating Guidelines

• Suspend Disbelief – be willing to admit ignorance
• Put the Last First – seek out the voices seldom heard
• Show Respect and Humility – all parties have something important to contribute
• Accept and Respect Divergent Views – there is no one best way
• Recognize the Positive – people that live on $1 per day must be doing something right
• Co-Develop Solutions – creating a new business takes mutual learning by all partners
• Create Mutual Value – all parties must benefit in terms important to them
• Start Small – begin with small pilot tests and scale out in modular fashion
• Be Patient – it takes time to grow the ecosystem and win trust before the business takes off
• Embrace Ambiguity – the greatest opportunities often arise from unplanned events and

Code of Conduct
• Design businesses that increase earning power, remove constraints, and build potential in
the BoP
• Ensure that wealth generated by the business is shared equitably with the local community
• Use only the most appropriate – and sustainable – technologies
• Promote the development of affected communities as broadly as possibly in ways defined
by the local people themselves
• Track the “triple bottom line” impacts associated with the entire BoP business system
• Monitor and address any unintended negative impacts associated with the business model
• Share best practices with local partners to the extent possible
• Report transparently and involve key stakeholders in an on-going dialogue
• Commit to increase community value regardless of the business outcome

For more BOP and base of the pyramid resources check out the BOP Network The BOP Network has fantastic presentations by speakers who are leading social entrepreneurs and is one of the best social enterprise resources on the web.

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