This course may be taken individually or as part of the Professional Certificate Program in Innovation & Technology.
From solar lights to water filters, educational mobile apps to low cost medical diagnostics, agricultural machinery to modular homes, in the last two decades, hundreds of new products, technologies and services have been designed to serve the nearly 4 billion people emerging out of global poverty. Many of these innovations held great promise for significant social impact, but far fewer have fulfilled their potential to solve poverty issues at large scale.
Inclusive business provides a bridge allowing for both the commercial viability of products and technologies in emerging markets and the benefit to base of the pyramid (BoP) populations as consumers and producers. Adopted by engineers, technologists, entrepreneurs, business professionals, and development practitioners, it is one strategy to drive innovative and locally relevant market-based solutions that include and benefit base of the pyramid (BoP) populations while also building markets, strengthening supply chains, and enhancing long-term competitiveness.
This course introduces participants to the fundamentals of Inclusive Business and why it is increasingly adopted as an approach to solving development challenges; how to address challenges in bringing technologies and products to market at the BoP; what are examples of frameworks and tools to market, distribute, and scale products and strategies at the BoP; and how to cultivate inclusive business practices and mindsets in their organizations and day-to-day work. Through live product cases, workshops and discussions with guest speakers, course participants will take away a toolbox of practical frameworks to initiate or augment Inclusive Business initiatives in their own institutions.
This course was designed as a complementary program to Inclusive Innovation: Designing for a Better World.
Deploying inclusive business initiatives and ventures can be both a lonely and high-risk endeavor, with few documented success stories of how to move beyond idea and pilots to scalable ventures.
From this course, participants will gain:
- A deeper understanding of the complexities of the base of the pyramid context and key insights into BoP customers’ characteristics and behaviors
- A framework for understanding inclusive business through the 5 A’s of Acceptability, Awareness, Availability, Affordability, and Action
- A collection of best practices for establishing and scaling inclusive business through venture and corporate case studies
- A practical toolkit for designing marketing, distribution, and profitability strategies for BoP markets
- Inspiration to incubate and drive inclusive business within their own organizations and the opportunity to formulate a concrete IB pitch
Who Should Attend
The course is taught from a business and technology viewpoint and is targeted to product engineers, project managers, designers, development practitioners, marketing and sales professionals. Our ideal participant is an individual in a decision-making role within their company or organization that is focused on operating in emerging markets and in particular how to expand the value of their products or technology to improve the lives of those living at the base of the pyramid (BoP). Relevant industries range include consumer products, manufacturing and industrials, energy, social entrepreneurship healthcare, international development, academia, technology and finance.
Laptops are required for this course.
This program runs 9:00am - 5:00pm Monday through Thursday, and 9:00am-1:30pm on Friday. There is a networking dinner on Tuesday after class, and an optional MIT tour on Thursday after class.
MIT faculty, MIT D-Lab instructors and program staff, and BoP Innovation Center bring global perspectives and hands-on experience to this new course, which draws on real-life case studies derived from Inclusive Business initiatives and technologies around the world. In addition to case studies, sessions will have a mix of theory, dynamic scenarios and mindset exercises, participant workshops, group discussions, hands-on sessions, and networking opportunities. Because of the emphasis on experiential learning, all sessions have roughly a 1:2 ratio of lectures to discussion or hands-on workshops.
- Dan Frey, Professor of Mechanical Engineering; MIT D-Lab Faculty Research Director
- Saida Benhayoune, MIT D-Lab Inclusive Business Program Advisor
- Amanda Epting, MIT D-Lab Inclusive Business Manager
- Jason Jay, Director, Sustainability Initiative at MIT Sloan
- Emile Schmitz, Managing Director, BoP Innovation Center
- Sher Vogel, MIT D-Lab Global Trainings Manager
- Jarrod Goentzel, Director, MIT Humanitarian Supply Chain Lab
Links & Resources
Scaling up a cleaner-burning alternative for cookstoves - MIT News, October 22, 2019
The type of content you will learn in this course, whether it's a foundational understanding of the subject, the hottest trends and developments in the field, or suggested practical applications for industry.
How the course is taught, from traditional classroom lectures and riveting discussions to group projects to engaging and interactive simulations and exercises with your peers.
What level of expertise and familiarity the material in this course assumes you have. The greater the amount of introductory material taught in the course, the less you will need to be familiar with when you attend.