Fighting poverty through design: Comparing design processes for the base and the top of the world income pyramid

Year: 2013
Editor: Udo Lindemann, Srinivasan V, Yong Se Kim, Sang Won Lee, John Clarkson, Gaetano Cascini
Author: Jagtap, Santosh (1); Larsson, Andreas (1); Hiort, Viktor (2); Olander, Elin (1); Warell, Anders (1); Khadilkar, Pramod (3)
Series: ICED
Institution: 1: Department of Design Sciences, Lund University, Sweden; 2: Product and production development, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden; 3: Centre for Product Design and Manufacturing, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India
Page(s): 211-220
ISBN: 978-1-904670-44-5
ISSN: 2220-4334


The base (BOP) and the top (TOP) of the world income pyramid represent the poor people and the people from developed countries, respectively. About two-fifths of the world population can be categorized as poor. Poverty is a trap because children born to poor parents are likely to grow up to be poor adults. In recent years, a poverty reduction approach that combines business development with poverty alleviation has received attention. The design of products for the BOP is an important ingredient of this poverty reduction approach. While companies are beginning to address the product needs of the BOP, there is limited practical and theoretical knowledge to support them. The current understanding of the design for the BOP is limited. This study, using a protocol analysis, compared the design processes for the BOP and TOP markets. The results indicate the differences between the design processes for these markets in terms of the design strategy employed by the designers (i.e. problem driven, solution driven strategy), their requirements handling behaviour, and their information behaviour. We have discussed the implications of the findings for design practice and education.

Keywords: Design for the Base of the Pyramid, Design process, Human behaviour in design, Sustainability, Protocol analysis


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