About 4 billion consumers live at the base of the economic pyramid, earning less than $3,000 a year in local purchasing power. As a group, they are often rural, poorly educated, and economically underserved. Yet their aggregate purchasing power is enormous, creating major opportunities for businesses that can deliver products they need at prices they can afford. The base of the pyramid is a $5 trillion global market, according to the IFC. Personal-care and packaged-food giants like P&G (No. 86
) and Unilever (No. 139
) are increasingly focused on this market, along with many telcos and health care deliverers.
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