The balancing act of optimised value creation
In BOP ventures the notion of “selling to the poor” has steadily been replaced by business approaches that suggest sustainable value creation. This has certain implications, in particular the development of strategies that serve triple bottom-line goals. These include economic, social and environmental benefits, in other words, the well known goals of people-planet-profit. However to optimise value-creation one ideally needs to follow a strategy that is based on some form of conceptual model that can serve as a frame of reference. This paper proposes such a conceptual model. The research was undertaken in 8 BOP projects involving multinational information and communication technology companies in Africa. ICT is relevant here because of frequently high expectations that it contributes positively to development goals. A study of the BOP literature reveals that several elements need consideration when trying to create value in developing areas. In addition it emerges that these elements are somehow interdependent. Using information found in the literature as guide a study of 8 cases was undertaken. The research approach was the case study method and the data was analysed for emerging patterns. Primary and secondary data was collected through interviews as well as a close study of archival and other sources. The analysis revealed three high level factors that may need to be aligned in order to ensure optimised value creation of BOP ventures. These three factors are BOP strategy, partnerships, and products & services development. It is also confirmed that neither BOP strategy nor partnerships nor products/service development can be synthesised independently from the rest. There is a delicate balance and interaction between the three where all three are interdependent and mutually influence each other.