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November 30, 2012 / compassioninpolitics

How can we solve the last mile problem in the base of the pyramid markets and international development

How do we solve the last mile challenge in the developing world and bottom of the pyramid markets?

I asked the following question about the Last Mile Challenge in terms of the rural poor who are entrepreneurs and customers around the world. I asked:

One of your last articles about the last mile problem and supply chain mentioned Sam’s Clubs work with small farmers….do you know if Root Capital is working on that or perhaps someone else? And perhaps more importantly, are there other bridge organizations which help provide contacts, capital, logistics, etc…for small farmers to connect with large companies like Sams, Walmart, etc?

Paul Polak said in reply that the following model “Small Farm Coops + Mobile + an entrepreneurial Middle Man” is one viable solution. It also helps that fair trade certifications like Fair trade coffee is in place with certain relationships to ensure that prices are economically viable. So, adding that as a strategy–could be helpful. The cooperative model is necessary in order to provide a conduit & bargaining power with orgs like Walmart as well as to achieve the scale that much larger firms can provide to corps like Walmart & Starbucks.

He also makes a number of business model suggestions here based on case studies that have worked for solving the last mile problem (this article in my opinion is on fire in terms of the models suggested). His former organization IDE and current water organization are also other viable models for solving this problem.

For more on Paul Polack you can go here. For more on Root Capital you can go here. To see the original article you can go here.

* My guess is in terms of coops that includes self-help groups (SHGs) like Mohammed Yunus uses given his reference to BRAC in his article, who I believe uses the same model.

To see his full comments you can view the video here:

Here is a short justification of small farmer coops as a tool in international development & growth at the base of the pyramid. The coops can also perhaps provide the money needed for a higher level of quality control or organic if that is part of the overall desired product by the company or the end consumer.

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