Last week we had the opportunity to spend three intense days filming and working with delegates at the Cornell Global Forum on Sustainability. Representatives from Google, Intel, GE Healthcare, Cascade Engineering and many more, converged on NYC for three days dedicated to understanding the immense opportunities at the Base of the Pyramid, and to participate in closed working sessions to build disruptive innovations aimed at creating products and services to serve the BoP and build sustainable business models for global multinationals.
The concept is this: While there are nearly 7 billion people on the planet, historically business has created products and services catering to the very top of that pyramid – the wealthy communities and populations. And the “Base of the Pyramid” has been largely relegated to unsustainable philanthropic activities. While charitable donations and efforts from first world nations to aid emerging nations certainly has a welcome and important role to play, the challenge and fantastic opportunity available to both corporations and entrepreneurs, is to build effective, inexpensive services and products which both serve the BoP and unapologetically make profits for leading innovative groups. For example, hand held cheap and readily scalable water purification systems selling for as little as $50 can purify local water sources and remedy dysentery and water-borne illnesses that incapacitate millions around the world. Such a simple purification device can be built and deployed in markets of need numbering in the millions, even billions. This simple device can then be improved and innovated up the pyramid long before (for example) a full-scale cost-intensive desalination plant is required. Of course a full blown desalination plant and requisite distribution system is both expensive and requiring immense infrastructure to deliver the needed clean water. Think of it! Instead of competing for the narrowing markets at the top of the global population pyramid, companies and entrepreneurs can address the needs of immense markets.
While at the conference, we had the privilege to conduct video interviews with the leading environmental engagement and sustainability practitioners from Google, SC Johnson, Whirlpool and others. Our interviews were conducted by David Bennell, Executive Director of the Organic Exchange. And the entire event culminated at the 92nd Street Y in a panel discussion with Fisk Johnson, CEO of SC Johnson, Stuart Hart, Vice President Al Gore, Ratan Tata, and hosted by Charlie Rose.
During the course of the conference we filmed the proceedings and built a real-time video narrative to capture the intent and ideas generated. Enjoy!