On Thursday, I was honored to be part of a panel at NASSCOM CSR Track called "Reaching out to the Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) Through Technology Services and Media." The moderator was the Seemantinee Khot, CEO, Suzlon Foundation. The other speakers Gaurav Mishra, CEO, 20:20 Social, Vijay Talwar, CEO, William J Clinton Organization.
The phrase "Bottom of the Pyramid" refers to the largest, but poorest segment of the population or the billions people living on less than $2 per day, as first defined in 1998 by Professors C.K. Prahalad and Stuart L. Hart and expanded on their books: The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid and Capitalism at the Crossroads. The phrase “bottom of the pyramid” is used in particular by people developing new models of doing business that deliberately target that demographic, often using new technology.
Khot started the panel asking the audience to reflect on why companies were talking about the bottom of the pyramid and questioned whether technology services should come before basic needs and services. She questioned the
motive for targeting this 'bottom of the pyramid', asking whether this was just marketing. She emphasized that technology services for the bottom of the pyramid need to be designed with their needs in mind, and not to make presumptions.
Vijay Talwar defined the differences between and fine lines between cause marketing and corporate social responsibility programs based on his experience working at Nike. Guarav Mishra showed some examples of how mobile technologies were helping to deliver services to the bottom of the pyramid.
My main point about social media was that it can be used as a bridge between the top and the bottom of the pyramid. I suggested that social media tools can be valuable in connecting professionals working in a particular field or cluster of NGOS with one another. I shared the story of how Pratham Books used Twitter to help get children's books to children in rural India. I also shared a brief case study of Red Cross over the past five years of integrating social media.
A detailed description of the panel and discussion points can be found here by Ashutosh Desai