Is the Relevance of Entrepreneurship-led Poverty Alleviation Models Context Specific?

By: Harini Mittal   Punit Saurabh  

Over the years, several entrepreneurship-led approaches have been proposed to tackle the complex challenge of global poverty characterized by persistent, unmet basic needs. C.K. Prahalad’s celebrated Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) approach is a top-down entrepreneurship-led model that claimed to be a new source of radical innovation for creation of new products and services for the poor. However, this innovation model seems to treat the poor merely as a sink for corporate goods and services. On the other hand, the bottom-up approaches to “Entrepreneurship-led” poverty alleviation aim to be developmentally more inclusive. For example, the grassroots innovation model emanates from the bottom of the pyramid to serve as a building block for societal transformation. Community-led-enterprise model is another approach in which community acts as entrepreneur to contribute to both local economic and social development. However, evidence suggests that the above bottom-up models have met with mixed results in varying contexts. Therefore, can we infer that the relevance of “Entrepreneurship-led” development as a tool to fight poverty varies according to the socio-economic and geographical contexts? Even if it so, how do we know what model suits which context? In order to investigate these questions, our research project analyzes two unique cases of “Entrepreneurship-led” poverty alleviation models from India and the US. The project employs a participatory evaluation method using several data-collection techniques - like direct observation, focus groups, participant surveys, staff interviews and assessment of internal systems – from multiple stakeholders. The project provides workable solutions for differing contexts and complex problems.

Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Inclusiveness, Impact, Poverty Alleviation, Social Innovation
Knowledge Management
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Harini Mittal

Assistant Professor, Business and Information Systems Department, Bronx Community College, City University of New York, United States
United States

Punit Saurabh

Assistant Professor, Institute of Management