No matter how elegant a product is or how many features it packs, if a consumer’s more basic needs are not met, you won’t get any buyers. It’s fairly obvious that you can’t sell someone a refrigerator if they don’t have electricity. But how many refrigeration companies are out there making it easier for consumers to gain access to electricity?
Oxfam International, an international confederation of 17 organizations, has stepped up to tackle to obstacles standing in front of those who want to receive an education. In Wajir, in northeastern Kenya, Oxfam has acted to eliminate the main diverter of schoolchildren to the classroom: the daily need to secure water for the survival of their family and herds.
By accomplishing such tasks as repairing water troughs and pipes, constructing new drainways, and building a storage facility to counter the drought season, Oxfam has led more students back to the classroom. Previously, education was a much harder sell to families when children were required to “…walk up to 25 kilometres every day in search of water”.
As commerce at the BoP continues to grow, institutions must truly understand their audience’s needs before they can properly propose or sell products and services. While many do, the result is to adjust their target audiences. It would have been very easy to only target the education process for children who can spare the time; yet instead, Oxfam smartly reached out to eliminate crucial barriers.
This sort of collective behavior is necessary if work at the BoP is to make a larger impact. Your company or institution does not need to go out and solve every problem, but if there are areas for inter-agency cooperation, it should be encouraged. We are all striving for a common goal – the reduction and eventual eradication of global poverty; the more that we can work together, the stronger our accomplishments will become.