Poverty Literature Review

Challenging the common views which typically perceive little potential for private enterprises in engaging with the underprivileged people on a mutually positive basis, Prahalad and his co-authors argued that MNEs can raise their profits, while satisfying needs of people living in poverty.Similar to the AT concept, the BOP concept has also been criticised, especially by Karnani ().

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He proposes that private sector can contribute towards poverty alleviation by focusing on the people living in poverty as producers as well as by creating employment opportunities for them.

An “alternative but complementary” perspective which evolved parallel to Prahalad’s concept of BOP markets is subsistence marketplaces perspective, articulated by Viswanathan and his colleagues (e.g. This subsistence marketplaces perspective emphasises a micro-level approach through an understanding of individuals, consumers, sellers or entrepreneurs, communities, marketplace behaviors, and their broader context.

Following this introduction, the rest of this paper is organised as follows: Sect.

presents concluding thoughts and offers recommendations for further research avenues, while employing a variety of methods with more consistent and thorough reporting of the studies.

Whilst Mahatma Gandhi called the problems faced by these resource-poor people as ‘the worst form of violence’, Amartya Sen defines them as lack of freedom and inability to make life choices (Sen ).

These marginalised people generally cannot change their living conditions and livelihood opportunities, as their access to financial and other resources is weak, with pressing need for immediate consumption (Karelis ). Although there is a great deal of design research in this field, its analysis is lacking, making it difficult to gain an overview of what has been investigated, how these investigations were undertaken, in what context they were undertaken, and how marginalised people were engaged and positioned in such investigations.

Design is essential to fulfil unmet or under-served needs of resource-poor societies, supporting their social and human development.

A great deal of design research has been undertaken in such low resource settings, and is discussed under different names, such as ‘community development engineering’, ‘humanitarian engineering’, ‘appropriate technology’, ‘design for development’, ‘design at the Base of the Pyramid’, etc.

In his book ‘Design for the Real World’, Papanek, an industrial designer, urged designers to address problems faced by the people in the Third World.

Papanek’s proposition was unique at that time when the majority of designers in the industrialised world were engaged in designing products for high-income societies and serving for-profit industries (Amir ).


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