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This chapter is from the book

Why Business Must Lead BoP Nations out of The Survival Trap

So far, we have established that The Survival Trap is an experience shared by all stakeholders in the developing world. We have also discussed how escaping The Survival Trap requires mindset change.

The next step is to identify the stakeholders best positioned to lead the change process. Business, both entrepreneurs and managers, must be at the forefront of the struggle for prosperity in BoP. First, because the core of the challenge in these regions stuck in The Survival Trap is economic. Both individual experiences and empirical evidence highlight this challenge. When inspired by the right values, firms are better equipped to solve economic challenges. This is not to say that government and development partners have no role to play. Indeed, their foremost responsibility is in improving the operating reality for firms to compete.

Among businesspeople, entrepreneurs are prime candidates to serve as change agents and have a unique perspective. By definition, entrepreneurs are problem solvers. They also have an excellent track record of producing results in BoP markets.

Second, business has an incentive to solve the challenges in BoP markets. In Africa Rising, Dr. Vijay Mahajan redefines Africa from a collection of countries with varying agendas and conflicts, to a unified pan-African consumer base of one billion with tremendous purchasing power. Africa is awaiting its entrepreneurs to build fortunes while helping the continent escape The Survival Trap.

Finally, there is a strong moral imperative for businesspeople to transform their communities. While such successes are commendable and inspiring, they highlight the sharp contrasts that exist within BoP markets. To succeed in these environments, it is important that entrepreneurs realize that they cannot live in castles in the midst of slums without repercussions. The moral case for business to lead the escape out of The Survival Trap is compelling.

In leading BoP markets out of the Trap, it matters a great deal that businesses understand the value of collaboration. This is particularly important because the difficult context of BoP markets has taught businesses to be self-reliant. While this self-reliant mindset is critical to prevail over the tough challenges in BoP markets, business must understand that it is not enough to change the context alone.

When operating in BoP markets, most businesses are faced with a host of apparent problems: market inefficiencies, production difficulties, and global competition. Yet a sole focus on those can be misleading. The deepest challenge, mindset, is not apparent.

A distinguishing feature of most successful executives in BoP markets is their superior ability to go beyond the apparent and confront the reality of the mindsets that inform unproductive behavior. A key to prospering in BoP markets is the capacity to change these mindsets and foster new behavior. The business leaders discussed in this book are good illustrations.

The magnitude of the challenge requires that businesses come together if they are to succeed. Business must leverage partnerships, associations, and clusters to address their business challenges in a sustainable manner. Beyond cooperation with other businesses, firms must also collaborate with government and development partners to solve some of the structural issues in TST countries including infrastructure, rule of law, and so on.

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