Innovator Guidebook: Navigating Business Models for the Base of the Pyramid in Water and Energy for Food

Photo credit: USAID Catalyst Project

In the nexus of water and energy for food (WE4F) in emerging markets, innovators are pioneering creative business models that improve the lives of communities in the base of the pyramid (BOP) while generating profit to scale further and accelerate their efforts. Working in the BOP market segment in rural communities is difficult. Despite an estimated worldwide market size of four billion people, it is difficult to capitalize on the potential of the base of the pyramid—especially in farming communities—due to a myriad of factors ranging from poor roads and ability to pay to lack of information about the customer’s needs, interests, and desires. 

Based on extensive secondary research and over 30 interviews with entrepreneurs, the goal of this Innovator Guidebook is to capture and frame these peer-to-peer exchanges around business models designed for the base of the pyramid in Water and Energy for Food. This resource is not a step-by-step manual, but curation of key considerations, lessons, and tools to help innovators think through the different dynamics and challenges when designing, testing, or accelerating a business model within this context. 

This guidebook is designed to introduce current and future innovators to different tools, tactics, examples, and resources. Drawing from many relevant and proven tools and tactics from the business and development communities, innovators will learn how these lessons and resources that can be adapted to strengthen business models designed for the BOP in the WE4F context.