There is an ongoing debate about the purpose of business and profit maximisation. However, contemporary marketing thinking suggests that pro-social behaviour is a critical aspect of marketing strategy, wherein this type of behaviour leads to marketplace advantage. Amongst the many theories and frameworks (such as, creating shared value and subsistence marketplaces) that re-imagine the purpose of business to include pro-social behaviour, a prominent one is the base of the pyramid (BoP) thesis. This thesis challenges firms to simultaneously alleviate poverty and make a profit by targeting the poorest socioeconomic segment. However, it has encountered robust criticism, with some scholars suggesting a lopsided focus on profits to the detriment of poverty alleviation. Specifically, the criticisms centre on the marketers’ narrow focus on income poverty. In order to overcome these criticisms, as well as to envision a pathway to succeed at the BoP, this chapter makes the case to conceptualise poverty beyond an economic focus of income, assets and wealth to capture beyond economic factors such as equality, justice and freedom. The authors employ Amartya Sen’s capability approach as a starting point to reconceptualise poverty to facilitate marketers to genuinely alleviate poverty whilst making profits at the BoP.
Voola, A. and Voola, R. (2018), "Developing Capabilities and Freedoms at the Base of the Pyramid", Singh, R. (Ed.) Bottom of the Pyramid Marketing: Making, Shaping and Developing BoP Markets (Marketing in Emerging Markets), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 189-198. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-78714-555-920181011
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