Category Archives: Base of the Pyramid

The Informal Industrial Ecosystem: An Introduction to REculture

This article introduces and explains some things I’ve been seeing in the informal industrial ecosystem in the developing world context for almost a decade now. First noticed in 2009, I then named it REculture, a neologism to capture the vast and complex ecosystem I saw in the revenue generating facility of recycle, replace, repurpose, reuse […]

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Stepping up human centered innovation planning for financial inclusion

Two Ugandan analysts from the Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) programme in Uganda write on the need for more human centered product development approaches in the design and delivery of financial services for rural Ugandans, especially the rural poor. One of their suggestions caught my attention in particular: (iii) Third, to increase the introduction of new […]

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Why is the Kenyan mobile loan industry facing just a digital version of India’s MFI problems?

When you make fast, easy, short term loans available on the phone to anyone with a need for quick money, why is it a surprise when high levels of consumer debt are the result? A recent survey by financial inclusion giants like FSD and CGAP discovers that low income Kenyans have not been helped by […]

Also posted in Africa, African Consumer Market, Banking, Business Models, Kenya, Loans, Mobile platform, Prepaid Economy & Informal Sector, Strategy, Technology | Tagged , , , , | 1 Response

How informal financial services can lower the barriers to formal financial inclusion

Around 2 and a half years ago, I was on a short visit to Abidjan, the capital of Cote D’Ivoire as a guest of the African Development Bank. They were holding an innovation weekend for young women and men in the Francophone West African region who were interested in becoming entrepreneurs. David O. Capo Chichi, […]

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Why does the prepaid model work so well and what are the lessons for business model innovation?

Increasingly, employment is becoming ad hoc and flexible. The gig economy and the informal sector share a common characteristic of incomes which are irregular and unpredictable, unlike the timely wages characteristic of formal employment. Both budgeting and planning thus become a challenge when there’s no predictable paycheck to rely on. Expenses are managed against cash […]

Also posted in African Consumer Market, Analysis, Biashara Economics, Business Models, Consumer Behaviour, Design, Emerging Markets, Flexibility, Frameworks, Income, Informal & Flexible, Innovation Planning, Marketing, Mobile platform, Perspective, Platforms, Prepaid Economy & Informal Sector, Produits de grande consommation (FMCG), Research, Retail in Africa, Rural Economy, Strategy | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The African Informal Sector: GDP Contribution vs Scale of Human Impact

The informal economy in sub Saharan Africa (SSA) tends to be measured as a share of GDP, counting its contribution to the national economy. By this metric, Nigeria has the most economically empowered informal sector, contributing over 60% to the GDP. On the other extreme, South Africa, has one of the smallest contributions to the […]

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The Resilience of Innovation under Conditions of Scarcity

Innovating beyond the traditional tin lantern – a simple wick attached to the can – Kouassi Bafounga cuts shapes from tin cans and fixes them together with glass, string and a little petrol to produce storm-proof lanterns. Last year, Bafounga was one of 11 winners in a “Fab Lab” innovation competition run by the French […]

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Lessons for development from the demand driven investment strategies of the informal sector

This shopkeeper in Laare, Kenya provided me with deep insight on how investments in expensive inventory are managed in a heavily cash based economy. He runs a consumer electronics store stocking everything from solar panels, music systems, spare parts and batteries, through to mobile phones and accessories. His purchasing decisions are based on visible consumer […]

Also posted in Analysis, Assumption filter, Biashara Economics, Business Models, Consumer Behaviour, Distribution, Ecosystem, Emerging Markets, Innovation Planning, Marchés africains, Marketing, Perspective, Prepaid Economy & Informal Sector, Produits de grande consommation (FMCG), Strategy, User research | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trading economics: a new theoretical system

From the Financial Times, a snippet from a guest post by Wang Zhenying, director-general of the research and statistics department at the PBoC’s Shanghai head office and vice chairman of the Shanghai Financial Studies Association, summarising the arguments in his new Chinese-language textbook on economics. “Trading economics” is one new theory emerging against this backdrop. […]

Also posted in Analysis, Assumption filter, Biashara Economics, Business Models, China, Consumer Behaviour, Economy, Ecosystem, Emerging Markets, Frameworks, Informal & Flexible, Marchés africains, Platforms, Prepaid Economy & Informal Sector, Report Review, Research, Systems, UCSD, Value | Tagged , , , | 1 Response

Leveraging Disability as Competitive Advantage: The Wheelchair Cargo Movers of Uganda

Only in Busia do wheelchair owners from all over Uganda congregate as it is to their economic advantage to do so. Documented, and observed were the handicapped professionals who crossed the border numerous times a day ferrying goods. In the past 25 years, the Busia tricyclists have created a strong community with initiative and resourcefulness […]

Also posted in Biashara Economics, Distribution, East African Community, Economy, Income, Migrant worker, Perspective, Research, Systems, Uganda, User research | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Response