Ethical Performance
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Inspirational pro-poor champion Prahalad dies at 69

May 2010

One of the chief proponents of ‘pro-poor’ capitalism, C.K. Prahalad, died last month aged 69.  

Prahalad was an influential voice in corporate responsibility thanks to his 2004 book The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, which advised multinationals to develop products and services targeted at poor people.

He argued that this would not only help those in poverty but open up a potentially lucrative untapped market for companies. His ideas have been followed up by a number of large businesses.

Prahalad, who was born in India, worked both in academia and management consultancy, establishing a worldwide reputation. He died in San Diego of a lung complaint.
Chris West, director of the Shell Foundation, which has been a supporter of pro-poor initiatives, told EP: ‘Prahalad’s book was seminal. It shook the world of international development and business by raising the idea that the world’s poor can and arguably should be treated as customers, not victims, and that by doing this both they and multinationals can potentially benefit.

‘Since it was published we’ve seen a wave of innovative initiatives and partnerships between multinationals, civil society, social entrepreneurs and governments designed to make this a reality.  There have been many successes but in reality we’ve only just begun to explore the potential of what he advocated.’

Peter White, director for global sustainability at Procter & Gamble, said: ‘His work influenced initiatives at P&G on serving low income consumers, and also inspired the whole Sustainable Livelihoods workstream at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.’

C.K. Prahalad | Global | Education

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