The Way to go

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has listed three Indian success stories among 50 case studies from all over the globe of businesses which have ameliorated the living conditions of the poor without compromising on profit making.In a report entitled ‘Creating value for all: Strategies for doing business with the poor’ released, case studies demonstrate how companies have expanded beyond traditional business practices and brought in the world’s poor as partners in growth and wealth creation. The three Indian case studies which have gone in for inclusive business model relate to the Sulabh experiment, a sanitation company which has developed low-cost toilets for the poor, the Narayana Hrudayalaya hospital group in Bangalore which has made huge profit while meeting the needs of the poor patients, and the New Tripur Areas Development Corporation, a newly formed company to tackle the water and sewage problems of a textile-based economy town. The presentation of the study was made by V Kasturi Rangan, the Malcolam P McNair prof of marketing and director of research at the Havard Business School, and Sabha Sobhani, a co-author of the report. Introducing the Report, Maxine Olson, UNDP resident representative and UN resident cordinator, said, ‘’Inclusive markets capture a business approach to scale and replicability offer the best promise of bridging the gap between the constraints of today and the promise of tomorrow.’’ The report brings out how Sulabh has developed low-cost toilets for use among the poor, freeing up 60,000 people from work of scavengers in the field of human waste removal.Overall, ten million people have benefitted from the toilets in homes and public places.
Rangan said, ‘’Business with the poor can be profitable and sometimes even more profitable than business with the rich.’’ In this regard, he cited the case of Narayana Hospital, a cardiac health care provider to the poor. The hospital has earned a profit of 20 per cent, almost four percentage point more than the country’s largest private hospitals.
In Tamil Nadu, the local government entered into a joint venture with the local export associaiton--Tripur Exporters association-- and a private sector financing organisation-IL&FS--to create a water company. The new entity is involved in tackling water and sewage problems of the industrial town.The corporation has installed and also operates the water and sewage system, which is financed exclusively with commercial returns. The textile companies benefitted from improved water services.

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