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This chapter is from the book

Building Partnerships That Transcend The Survival Trap

Businesspeople are but one, albeit one of the most important, set of stakeholders that can help BoP nations prevail over The Survival Trap. Other change makers include political leaders and development financing institutions.

Political leaders often define the playing field where entrepreneurs operate. Through their vision (or lack thereof), political leaders perpetuate bad strategies that have kept developing countries poor. The fundamental mindset shift required here is the acceptance that business must drive prosperity creation, which runs opposite the classic development model.

While this model made tremendous sense when the elites needed to focus on politics to build new nations post-independence, new global conditions require a different approach. Instead, citizens living in countries characterized by The Survival Trap must be empowered to take responsibility and exercise self-determination at all levels.

Most BoP countries are emerging nations with young and growing populations that aspire to live a prosperous life according to their own definitions. These aspirations translate into business opportunities such as selling new products, which for-profit businesses are in the best position to provide.

One of the crucial mindsets to overcome is zero-sum thinking—a belief derived from economic theory and game theory that suggests that one's neighbor and oneself cannot prosper at the same time. Such thinking makes public sector leaders and development partners loathe entrepreneurs.

As a result, these groups often assume that helping business executives is helping the rich instead of focusing on the poor. These groups need to acknowledge that their focus to help the poor has been misguided and needs to shift in order to get the sought-after results—alleviating poverty and creating prosperity.

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