Reaching Out to the Poor - for Market Share


C.K. Prahalad is a Harvey C. Fruehauf Professor of Business Administration at the University of Michigan Business School. He writes and lectures worldwide on his specialty: Corporate Strategy focusing on Multinational Corporations' hierarchy's responsibility of value adding. He has continued to be a research fellow at Harvard University where he received his Doctorate in Business Administration in 1975. He is also visiting Professor at the European Institute of Business Administration (INSEAD). He is chairman of the San Diego, CA based software company, Praja that he helped birth. Some of Doctor Prahalads' major publications are:


  • The Multinational Mission: Balancing Local Demands and Global Vision (1987) with Yves Doz
  • Competing for the Future (1994) co-authored with Gary Hamel (Printed in thirteen languages).

Many of these he has co-authored have appeared in the Harvard Business Review

  • Do You Really Have a Global Strategy? (1985)
  • Collaborate With Your Competitors - and Win (1989)
  • Strategic Intent (1989)
  • The Core Competence of the Corporation (1990)
  • Corporate Imagination and Expeditionary Marketing (1991)
  • Strategy as Stretch and Leverage (1993)
  • Competing for the Future (1994)
  • The End of Corporate Imperialism (1998).
    • Strategic Intent, The Core Competence of the Corporation and The End of Corporate Imperialism
      (Awarded McKinsey Prize, 1989, 1990, 1998)
    • The Dominant Logic: A New Linkage Between Diversity and Performance (1986), co-authored with Richard Bettis
      (Chosen as the best article published in Strategic Management Journal for the Period 1980-88).
    • The Role of Core Competencies in the Corporation (1993)
      (Received the 1994 Maurice Holland Award as the best paper published in Research Technology Management in 1993.)
    • A Strategy for Growth: The Role of Core Competence in Corporation (1993).
      (Won the European Foundation for Management Award 1993).

Other Awards:

  • Business Week: (One of top ten U.S business professors from Nationwide poll of MBA alumni)
    "Brilliant teacher at the University of Michigan may well be the most influential thinker on corporate strategy today." (1992)
  • Wall Street Journal: (Top Ten teachers in the world, "Special Report on Executive Education; 1993)
  • Indo-American Society: Annual Award, 1994; for -- Contributions toward Promotion of Indo-American Goodwill, Understanding and Friendship.
  • American Society for Competitiveness 1995 Award -- for Outstanding Academic Contribution to Competitiveness.
  • The President of India: Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award for Excellence in Public Administration and Management Sciences.

Professor Prahalad has and is consulting with the zenith of such giants as:

The Big Future Inspiration

TiE-Atlantic (regional chapter of The IndUs Entrepreneurs) 2001

As Keynote Speaker, challenging all, using:

"India as an example for the world and the poor of India can be a source of innovation, the question is how do you see poverty and see a market."
He went on to explain how only the upper and middle class top multinational corporations are sought after for sales, when there is a huge mostly untapped group. It might go against common wisdom that the masses of lower income folks could not be a viable source of sales. But the realities of volume, volume, volume, and new technologies reducing costs to customers -- that obviously can not pay similar to wealthier patrons -- that can put the sun on this parade.

In spite of the nay-Sayers two working examples of marketing success are cited:

Ice Cream for the Poor

  • Ice cream is now available to the impoverished currently for 3 rupees, or 6 cents, after challenging some Indian businessmen and analysts to gamble against the impossibilities of no electricity and refrigeration.
  • Success came from those that ventured outside of the typical template by using storage units for ice cream that relied on dry ice making electricity needless.

Other Services for the Poor

  • Financial Services
  • Personal Hygiene
    • Unilever Corporation has prospered more from selling cheaper versions of soap products sold to the bottom economic rung, than the fancy ones to the rich.
  • Health Services
    • Aravind Eye Hospitals can do cataract surgery at $ 10 a person, where the same in the U.S. is $ 1500 dollars; And, they show a 200 percent profit, how? By performing a quarter of a million operations annually.

The money making opportunities are further appealing when one considers the multifarious culture, with its varied ancient and new religions, and babel of languages, as he prophesies:

"I really believe this is an opportunity waiting for us to exploit."
And knowing this learned man's background, he means exploit in a positive connotation.


  • IndUS Business Journal, December 2001;
  • University of Michigan website
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