Tapping the Tools of Business to End Global Poverty

USD Conference to Focus on C.K. Prahalad’s Legacy 

The idea that  business can alleviate poverty, promulgated by the late business professor C.K. Prahalad, has sparked a world-wide movement. A conference at the University of San Diego from Sept. 15 to 17 will bring together industry leaders and scholars from all over the world to explore the successes and challenges faced by companies engaging low-income citizens through market mechanisms to simultaneously generate profits and social value.

“C.K. Prahalad’s Legacy: Business for Poverty Alleviation,” will build on his belief that businesses can contribute to reducing poverty by engaging the world’s poor – those at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid – in win-win value chains operating in the global marketplace. The conference is sponsored by USD’s Ahlers Center for International Business and the Center for Peace and Commerce.

“Engaging the base of the pyramid is not about exploiting the poor by selling them cheap consumer goods,” said  Patricia Marquez, USD associate professor of management and  faculty director of the Center for Peace and Commerce. “Instead it is about creating new business models for social and economic inclusion.”

Attending the conference will be industry leaders from some of the world’s top corporations that have created innovative business models generating economic and social value. Those include the giant pharmaceutical company Novartis, which is developing sustainable business models to address the health needs of people in poor areas of Central America and India, and Tata that has developed the Nano Car, an affordable model for low-income consumers in India. Executives from Qualcomm Inc. and other multinationals will also discuss their experiences, highlighting the challenges they have encountered and the solutions to overcome them.

At the same time, Jane Chen, the creative founder of the global nonprofit Embrace will present the case of producing innovative, low-cost incubators to save the lives of infants in the developing world. Scholars and professors will discuss academic papers on a variety of topics including alliances between business and non-government organizations, base of the pyramid development, social entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility. “Creating synergy and cross-sector partnerships are critical to the success of the many business models for poverty alleviation,” Marquez said.

The conference is a fitting tribute for Prahalad, a visionary scholar and leader and a resident of San Diego who passed away in April of 2010. “We hope the San Diego community joins us in this rich dialogue,” Marquez said. “In our view there can be no greater honor for C.K. Prahalad than having colleagues from all over the world come together to continue the work he began.”

The conference also includes USD’s fourth annual summit on Peace and Prosperity through Trade and Commerce. For more information and registration, go to www.sandiego.edu/cpc or call (619) 260-4857.

The Center for Peace and Commerce is a joint effort of the USD School of Business Administration and the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies.

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 9,000 students from 69 countries and 50 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. The university's eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD's Envisioning 2024 strategic plan capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.