Customer Reviews


76 Reviews
5 star:
 (47)
4 star:
 (17)
3 star:
 (8)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


150 of 158 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ruminating at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP)
"Fortune" is an interesting, inspiring book. The study of poverty eradication gets short shrift in most business schools but this book suggests that a lot of resources and a phalanx of graduate students (since most graduate students claim to be poor, perhaps they empathize better; at least they're cheaper to hire than business faculty) at Wharton and Michigan did a lot of...
Published on June 12, 2005 by Peter Lorenzi

versus
199 of 211 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hardcover and tradepaperback are different!!!
Here is a note I sent to the editor after buying the tradepaperback version.

Your editorial staff has done something so dumb I am astounded! (Also really $%^& mad.) The hardcover and trade paperback versions of CK Prahalad - The fortune at the bottom of the pyramid, are NOT the same. I assigned readings from this book to my class of 100 students. They went and...
Published on April 13, 2007 by J. Davis


‹ Previous | 1 28 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

199 of 211 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hardcover and tradepaperback are different!!!, April 13, 2007
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (Paperback)
Here is a note I sent to the editor after buying the tradepaperback version.

Your editorial staff has done something so dumb I am astounded! (Also really $%^& mad.) The hardcover and trade paperback versions of CK Prahalad - The fortune at the bottom of the pyramid, are NOT the same. I assigned readings from this book to my class of 100 students. They went and bought the book and found that the case studies aren't there. On closer investigation I see that you shortened the case studies and renamed the chapters. Unfortunately the editing on the shortening is terrible and I simply can't ask my students to read such badly written material.

You did several things wrong

1) You sell two books with identical titles and covers, which have different content

2) You edited very very badly

3) You did this on an award winning book with high visibility

As far as I can tell there is no way for anyone to figure out that the content is different except in the very rare case that they own both versions.

This is a black mark on the Wharton name. What were you thinking?

-james
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


150 of 158 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ruminating at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP), June 12, 2005
"Fortune" is an interesting, inspiring book. The study of poverty eradication gets short shrift in most business schools but this book suggests that a lot of resources and a phalanx of graduate students (since most graduate students claim to be poor, perhaps they empathize better; at least they're cheaper to hire than business faculty) at Wharton and Michigan did a lot of digging for answers. This is a noble cause, well-financed, and maybe these two business schools will support these efforts with a revision to their MBA curricula. While teaching a man to fish is better than giving a man a fish, it is better still to teach a village how to raise fish (or capital, or critical mass, or some other key resource), and that is the fundamental if implicit message and philosophy here. Poor people don't need charity; they need access to and information about the tools of capitalism, and governments and other not-for-profits are not likely to do this as such actions would put them out of business. Read the "Twelve principles of innovation for BOP markets" (pp. 25 - 27) and you'll get the basic Reader's Digest, Harvard Business Review executive summary.

The mendacity of the claim, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you," gets a lot of reinforcement here. Rather than help poor people, an early table (p. 11) shows that the government charges poor people more than rich people for the same water service. And the evidence, much of it discovered by Peru's Hernando De Soto, that governments delight in making entrepreneurship, innovation and capitalism almost a criminal offense, shines right through.

The false conceit exposed here is that governments are not likely to fix poverty, nor are NGOs, the UN, or other alphabetical, "not-for-profit" agencies. Maybe HLL, CEMEX, SMEs or some other, similarly acronymed, profit-seeking organizations will do it. It is not clear that there is a fortune at the bottom of the pyramid, even if there are four billion people (depends, really, on how you define poverty) willing to spend a penny a day on shampoo. There certainly is a profit to be made, but this time it is the poor who stand most to profit from free, global markets.

"Fortune" also has little, nagging problems. Like most empiricists, this book wants to use data as a singular noun. The font is small and flourished, making the text physically difficult to read. There is a cryptic table (exactly what is a `nos' anyway"?), a graph with no labels for the x- and y-axes. The book is awash with acronyms and academic jargon. Some of the bold-faced assertions read like doctoral dissertation hypotheses. Maybe because the book is primarily graduate-student written case studies with a lengthy introduction by the author, there is a tendency to repeat information from previous chapters. Decrying excessive packaging and high transaction costs, the authors also commend single-use purchases on a daily basis, filling land fills with sachets and making shopping a daily chore. If we are going to `microfinance' progress, we might want to start with a store credit for a refillable shampoo bottle (I am pretty sure that Coca-Cola mastered this marketing concept in South America years ago). In case the bookstore browser is unsure as to what the book is about, the book has a title ("The fortune at the bottom of the pyramid"), a subtitle ("Eradicating poverty through profits" and a sub-subtitle ("Enabling dignity and choice through markets"). And the dust cover blurbs from Bill Gates, Madeleine Albright, and similar `names' are a bit hyperbolic.

David Landes ("The wealth and poverty of nations") did a better job of explaining the cultural and legal system changes needed to make transactions easier for the customers. TGO (I'll let you look it up) means we have to have a government that assists wealth creation rather than simply tax, block, or prohibit progress out of poverty by people.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


113 of 123 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Give a man a fish, he'll eat for a day..., January 31, 2005
By 
...Teach a man to fish, and he'll eat for a lifetime". A famous Biblical quote, one that resonated with me strongly, and profoundly influenced my thinking on international aid, but more broadly, the problem of poverty, and the reticence of Capitalism in addressing it.

I'm a strong believer in capitalism, this wonderful book reinforced my belief in that system. It did so by showing how world poverty and consistently non-functional economies aren't because of capitalism, but for lack of capitalist attention.

Times have changed, technology and it's rapidly increasing efficacy in efficient delivery of products and services, necessitates that we change our attitude about heretofore neglected markets, and the nearly 5 billion people in them. "Inclusive Capitalism" as the author calls it.

Rich with important concepts like "Installment Sales" (which address the needs and constraints of low-income consumers), this book is a virtual blueprint for companies, as well as entreprenuers, who are interested in serving low-income consumers around the world.

The hardcover book also contains a CD. I usually skip viewing those, but I'm glad I didn't in this instance. Prahalad gives the introduction, then roughly a dozen case studies follow. From Appliance sales companies in Brazil, to a Cement company in Mexico; seeing the passion on the faces of their customers, how the companies have changed their lives, it is incredibly touching. You aren't watching customers, you're watching "evangalists" that would make your most devout American iPod fan seem like an unsatisfied customer.

I recommend this book highly.

Enjoy,

Christian Hunter

Santa Barbara, California
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and anecdotal evidence is not proof, June 24, 2007
By 
Emc2 (Tropical Ecotopia) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (Paperback)
Last year this book became a best seller hit among the developmental community at Washington, D.C., to the point that all bookstores at Metro DC run out of it. With notorious and well publicized praising comments from Madeleine Albright, Bill Gates and the like, I bought it too, but just to discover all the frenzy was undeserved from the viewpoint of poverty eradication.

Undoubtedly Mr. Pralhad's research demonstrates there are plenty of opportunities to do good business among the poor at the BOP (bottom of the pyramid), for them to benefit from the products and services not available now, and for some of them to go out of poverty by becoming entrepreneurs (market penetration is always limited). I agree on these conclusions, as commented extensively by the previous reviewers, and without a doubt this book will become a reference in many Business Schools. But to assert that this strategy will eradicate poverty and bring development is plain sophistry. As Carl Sagan said "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence".

Why sophistry? Regarding the poverty eradication claimed by Mr. Prahalad I will try to highlight some of the main flaws in his rationale and lack of sufficient evidence:

1. Despite the consideration of several cases from around the Third-World, most of the discussion and arguments to build the framework are related to India, excessively. The conditions of the poor in Latin America are quite different, and often, they have better public services available to them. On the other hand, many African countries have worst conditions. So you can not reach valid conclusions based solely on a country with such unique cultural and ethnical conditions. For doing business the cases are fine, especially for India or China because they are such huge markets at the BOP.

2. Wealth creation is hugely overestimated. Poor entrepreneurs and their immediate family will undoubtedly benefit from these new economic activities, but the framework lacks an explanation about how these oases of welcomed capitalism will trickle-down to the rest of their neighbors and poor villages. The implicit assumption is that everybody at the BOP has to become an entrepreneur for this strategy to work, because by just having access to affordable consumer products it seems very unlikely that poverty will be eradicated. The proposed framework is just good for doing business and for the poor to have access to new services and products, but where is the sustainable "fishing industry" for the rest of the poor population? The cases are very unique, islands of excellence, and with limited potential for a population the huge size of the BOT to bail out of poverty in significant numbers.

3. The analysis lacks the historical, cultural, legal and socio-economical background for a given country or region, and this consideration is fundamental for a proper analysis on sustainable development. Even when Mr. Pralhalad correctly identifies lack of education, corruption and the size of the informal sector as barriers for development and doing business, he then oversimplifies a lot on how to overcome these key issues, and again, an isolated Indian case is used as the magic formula to solve the problem through information technology. In fact, at the end of Chapter 6, within the conclusions, he recognizes that the illustrations he provides "are but islands of excellence in a sea of deprivation and helplessness". As the development community knows well, these successful stories are very hard to replicate. In Latin America we have the outstanding cases of Chile, Uruguay and Costa Rica. In Brazil, we have the cases of the Southern states of Santa Catarina, Paraná, São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul. All of them very developed as compared to their neighbors (in terms of income, education, health, etc.), but despite all efforts, no one has successfully reproduced these islands of excellence at a scale that makes a difference.

4. An example will help to understand how superficial the cases are from a point of view of development and poverty eradication. The Brazilian case of "Casas Bahia" lacks the consideration of the socio-economic environment of the country, especially the case omits to mention key characteristics of the financial and credit markets (for those interested in this particular case from the point of view of business, I recommend you read "Samuel Klein e Casas Bahia: Uma trajetoria de Sucesso", Novo Seculo, 2005, this is a real and really impressive business success story). Mr. Klein successfully, by trusting the poor, built an empire that today is still one of the few option many mid- and low-income families have to buy the first computer for their children going to college in Brazil. But, let's see why the market share for credit cards is only 4%, and why it is not a real threat for Casas Bahia own financial system as stated in the book, as well as why there is not much in here to help eradicat poverty in Brazil. Annual inflation today in Brazil is in the order of 3-4%, and the Brazilian currency, the "Real" have been steadily revaluating against the dollar for the last 3 years. However, interest rates in Brazil are sky-high, a legacy of the hyper-inflation times of twenty years ago. Interest rates for well-known international credit cards are 9-11% per month, which compounded translates to an annual rate close to 180%, regardless of whether you're poor or rich. Today retail chain stores of this type charge around 3% per month, embedded in the price of the consumer products, so the consumer doesn't know up-front the real price. This translates to a compounded rate of 43% per year. Often if you try to pay upfront, there is no discount. So where is the real benefit for the poor? Or are they just getting every day more indebted, and spending money on fat interests that they could have used to buy more or better food or better health services for their kids. I do not see where poverty eradication fits in this case. Obviously Brazil has a problem of lack of real competition in the capitalist sense; even the branches of American Banks doing business in Brazil charge these exorbitant rates. As a reference for the readers, you can buy a 30Gb iPod in Brazil for the "reasonable" amount of US$1,000, payable in 12 installments, and for the high price we also have to thank the federal government high taxes on almost everything. Coming back to the case, as an additional "benefit", you only can make the payments in person at stores of the retail chain, just to make sure the poor are tempted every month and come back for more when they are close to payback that debt. That's why there is a 77% of clients who make reapeat purchases as the book reports. Not surprisingly the case description mentions the criticism "that Casas Bahia simply exploits the poor and charges them exorbitant interest rates", but neglects to present a due explanation of why this is not truth, and simply disregards the cristicism.

5. Finally, Mr. Prahalad is extremely optimistic. At he end of Chapter 6 and in his own words: "I have no doubt that the elimination of poverty and deprivation is possible by 2020". This prophecy speaks by itself about the reliability of the analysis. And again, let's remember that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. All the book presents is anecdotal evidence, which is not proof as any scientist knows, and the framework presented has no predictive power, much less to assert that poverty will end by 2020.

Unquestionably an excellent business book, and a very innovative one, but just for that, business. That's why to me it only deserves 3 stars. On the other hand, not much value-added in there for doing real sustainable development across the board, as the author insinuates and some of the readers think, and certainly not much for real poverty eradication. For that outrageous addition to the book's title I took the other 2 stars. The "Erradicating poverty through profits" part of the book's title should be erased, so the book really deserves the 5 stars most reviewers gave to it (and as the previous reviewer rightly complained, the cases were really awfully edited for the paperback edition, even with repeated sentences). Definitely this book is not recommended if you are serious about new ideas for sustainable development. For a real book on that subject, read the recently publicated The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It by Paul Collier, though its scope refers mainly to very poor African countries, it is an example of a serious and proper approach to the problem of eradicating poverty. To understand the complexities of promoting development, you may also read Making Globalization Work by Joseph Stiglitz. These two books will clearly ilustrate why "The Fortune at the BOP" is not a book on development, and absolutely, no Nobel Prize is deserved.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent methods proven by example, August 6, 2004
This book is not about idealogies that are great on paper, but could never actually be effecient in real business life. This book proves by example the possibilities of doing good business, while helping the less fortunate at the same time. This book addresses the needs of both businesses and society, and how it can be a win-win situation. This book is a must read. It will change the way you do business.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Holy Grail for Corporate Global Growth, August 5, 2004
By 
Russ Hall (Marble Falls, TX USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Employees at corporations that are hitting the wall when called upon to grow should own and read this book. It is indeed an eye-popper. The win-win formula of innovation here dares nothing less than helping the world's poorest poor while making a profit!

This is not an abstract idea, but one sustained by actual examples of how this has worked in numerous cases and it should be a springboard for how it can happen in many others. Doing business in the global economy will be an inevitable charge for those businesses that will survive, and this book unveils the largest untapped market of all, and one when addressed properly will do incredible good.

Read this book! It may well change your life as well as the way you successfully do business.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Top Of The Pile, May 16, 2005
By 
I think it is fair to say that it is rare that a book falling into the business category can also be one that can also be inspiring. This book falls into that category. The books main premise is that the worlds 4 billion plus people that live in rather dismal poverty are never going to be able to claw their way out of that poverty based on insufficient charity. The author believes that what is going to get these people a better quality of life is business investment. Global organizations can profit by establishing locations in these under serviced markets, sell a base product at a marginal profit and increase the well being of the community. The more of this investment, the more wealth is generated within the community and the more business opportunities there are.

The author gives a basic volume business case study for how to make a profit in these rather depressed markets. He also claims that even though the populations are so poor, there are so many of them that any consumer staple product could provide sustainable revenue. The author wraps his whole premise up with dialog around how major global organizations are hitting the wall within the western world in total sales and to obtain real growth they are going to have to start looking to the less attractive parts of the globe. The author finishes by stating that business can not only increase share holder value, but also make meaningful and sustained improvements in the life's of literally billions of people.

Overall I found the book well written and enjoyable. I got carried away in the optimistic win / win scenarios the author was detailing. Hey why can't this work I thought, look at all the good it would do. Well time will tell, the pessimist in me sees a good amount of risk that would keep a good chunk of the business world at bay. Regardless, the book is a compelling, interesting and inspiring book that is well worth your time.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Doing well by doing good, August 20, 2004
This book examines at the global level what retailers are beginning to see at the local level. Markets that have been overlooked because of per capita income are fertile fields for the entrpreneur. The book looks at how you can help lift a community while finding excellent markets for your products or services. Excellent "outside the box" thinking recommended for business people and educators.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Packed with Knowledge!, August 5, 2005
Author C.K. Prahalad's excellent book suggests replacing traditional notions of government-channeled aid with a new model for relieving poverty and stimulating development. The new model relies on profit-making businesses, especially multinational corporations (MNCs). The MNCs have an economic incentive to tap the great market that exists, all but hidden, at the bottom of the economic pyramid. The author demonstrates clearly that it is possible to develop business models that allow the poorest of the poor to participate actively in their own economic development by becoming entrepreneurs. Although the individuals at the bottom of the pyramid (referred to as BOP) have little money, collectively they represent a vast pool of purchasing power. They welcome opportunities to escape their oppressive burdens, including predatory intermediaries, corrupt governments and the societal "poverty penalty" that requires them to pay more than the rich for similar services. Clearly written, well documented and furnished with an abundance of anecdotes, this book is a must-read both for those interested in alleviating poverty and for those looking to tap a vast new market for consumer goods.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Convert poverty into prosperity, October 28, 2004
C.K. Prahalad has written about a bold new idea to fight poverty using profits.

"IF WE stop thinking of the poor as victims or as a burden and start recognising them as resilient and creative entrepreneurs and value-conscious consumers, a whole new world of opportunity will open up." That "simple proposition" begins a controversial new management book that seems destined to be read not just in boardrooms but also in government offices. "The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid. Eradicating Poverty Through Profits" (Wharton School Publishing), is essentially a rallying cry for big business to put serving the world's 5 billion or so poorest people at the heart of their profit-making strategies. It has already been praised by everyone from Bill Gates-"a blueprint for fighting poverty"-to a former American secretary of state, Madeleine Albright-"if you are looking for fresh thinking about emerging markets, your search is ended."

Ultimately, profits aren't made by screwing people out of their money. Profits come from solving customer problems and meeting customer needs. Any market with unmet needs and/or inefficiencies in process is ripe for someone to come in and make profits while still providing good value to consumers. I hope this book starts to change the thinking patterns of society. The best thing that could happen to those in poverty is that we unleash the power of capitalism to raise their standard of living.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 28 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits
Used & New from: $0.20
Add to wishlist See buying options
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.