The Sustainability Frontier
Edited by Urs P. Jäger and Vijay Sathe
Chapter 5: Base of the pyramid
Latin America has experienced constant economic growth over the last decade, considered as a big success on a wide range of factors, especially given the fact that most developed economies have been struggling through financial crisis and recession. Throughout this period, Latin American corporations have internationalized themselves (creating the multilatinas concept) and foreign investment has risen, increasing the presence and impact of foreign companies in the region. However, as can be appreciated through this chapter, the main opportunities and challenges corporations will have to face in order to experience sustainable economic growth is working with low-income communities in the BoP (base of the pyramid) space, not only due to future market and demand potential, but to ensure that the economic growth experienced also enables social development and more opportunities for all. This economic period is considered as the first in which Latin America has proven that its economic cycle is independent from Western economic cycles, and it has thus experienced the global crisis as an innocent bystander (although at the cost of a certain dependence on Chinese trade). Some of the core factors that have characterized this success are: high commodity prices; a growing middle class; solid macroeconomic management; and increasingly sophisticated financial markets. So, despite the global economic downturn, the Latin American region grew 5.9 percent in 2010 (UNECLAC, 2011a). The direct consequences of this growth have been tens of millions of Latin Americans climbing out of poverty and joining a growing lower-middle class.
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