Instant MBA: Selling to the poor

Written by Kim Shiffman

Selling to the poor

There’s huge potential for companies to do big business in developing countries, but it requires a different approach than in developed markets, according to research by professor Srinivas Sridharan of the Richard Ivey School of Business in London, Ont. For example, instead of dictating prices, firms have a much better chance for local buy-in if they seek pricing input from local communities. It’s also a good idea for companies to provide opportunities for local employment, such as involving local small businesses in production, because local entrepreneurs’ rich personal networks give them a better understanding of customers. Sridharan’s conclusions are based on surveys, fieldwork, qualitative studies, case-study analysis, grassroots educational programs on marketplace literacy and hands-on course work.

The immigrant edge

What do Frank Stronach, Clive Beddoe and Terry Matthews have in common? They’re all immigrants who founded extraordinarily successful companies — and that might not be a coincidence, says a study by Margaret Dalziel of the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Business. Dalziel collected data on 52 of Canada’s most successful entrepreneurs, and very few patterns emerged — until she considered immigrant status. Not only were immigrants overrepresented, but their firms’ annual revenues were significantly higher than those of firms founded by Canadian-born entrepreneurs. The study did not aim to discoverexactly why immigrants are such successful entrepreneurs, but Dalziel theorizes that it may be related to their high tolerance for ambiguity and strong social networks.

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