India, as most other countries, needs communities that are significantly more resilient, with less dependence on externally sourced products and services for basic needs fulfillment. It is imperative, therefore, that transformation towards a truly sustainable society be driven through business models with distributed epicenters of local value creation. These models rely on the regeneration of natural resources, access to energy, right-sized technology and skilled human resources. This will need innovation at system levels higher than that of simple products and services.
Supply chains that transport finished products across vast distances and through a large number of intermediaries are more than likely to get stretched and eventually, broken. Large businesses of the future will therefore, be compelled to market goods and services through business networks that empower the micro-and small-scale service provider to create value locally by up-cycling a diverse range of materials, particularly waste, into safe, strong, energy saving and easily usable building material.
Typically, as big brands continue to become valuable assets for both large corporations and small entrepreneurs, franchising models would be placed to deliver solutions at scale; particularly to millions of households that still have unmet basic needs. Collaborative “incubation models” between large corporations and social businesses such as TARA could use their respective strengths to put together “business-in-a-box” packages of technology and know-how for local entrepreneurs; adding a few critical inputs to secure their own revenues on a recurring and long-term basis.
In recent years, the focus of our work has been on the incubation of social equity enabled, commercially sustainable, entrepreneurial value chains for last mile delivery of basic needs products and services for the poor. Increasingly so, it places emphasis on how critically needed investment from large pools of underutilized capital can be drawn into disaggregated business models; driven in part, by much needed changes in the policy environment.
In our view, the development trajectory stands out as an absolute imperative, not only from the point of view of accelerating local transformation, but also on account of the broader, global environmental, social and economic goals of sustainable development.
The views expressed in the article are those of the author’s and not necessarily those of Development Alternatives.