Bottom Billion

Written by Hikmat Obeid

Coming from a project management background with a proven record of successful project delivery, Hikmat handles client accounts, key accounts, and accompanies the clients in their cloud adoption and migration journey.

Bottom Billion! Not a term we hear everyday, but if you simply type the 2 words in any search engine or if you read till the end of this sentence you would know that ‘Bottom Billion’ is used to refer to the sum of the poorest people in the world, those who live on less than 1 US Dollar per day.
While the reader may spontaneously relate this to humanitarian endeavors, I am hereby discussing how, through technology, you can involve that sector of every continent in the economic cycle.

How to:
1. Give them the opportunity to explore new things
2. Give the opportunity to be productive under one of the new business models
3. Make revenue by offering them innovative products/services that they need and they can afford

For the purpose of this article, the ‘Bottom Billion’ is defined by individuals, other studies may define it by country when the topic is researched 
in a national perspective. In that case, the Bottom Billion refers to populations of countries with very low per capita GDPs and nearly negligible growth.

Enable them / Empower them

It is reported that 88% of the Chinese population in 1981 lived under poverty! In 2012, only 6.5% were left there while 500 million people lifted out of poverty. Was it made by aid? Definitely not. It was made by involving those, by creating jobs and business opportunities, by proper utilization of the available resources, and by a precise and well-addressed response to the needs that were clearly identified and understood.

Bottom of the Pyramid

It may not be surprising that the present and the future of the business and profit is no more a combination of a rich market and a fancy product. In fact, it is more of approaching the untapped markets, areas of very high population, the poorest people in the world. A lot still needs to be done, and it is easier to innovate there. If you can reach them, you can solve a problem of theirs, you come with an offering that they can afford, then you’ve got all it needs to close the deal, and you are fit to proceed with your investment. You are not alone in that field, and the stereotype of the third world supplying the labor to satisfy the market needs of developed countries is no more valid. The new business order requires that we serve both rich and poor markets.  

Emerging Markets: You are not alone

Though a little portion of the Bottom Billions are residents of some developed countries, the majority of those are nationals and residents of the –historically- so-called underdeveloped countries out of which the emerging markets have arisen. Emerging markets is a great pool of innovation and it was there where most of the disruptive innovation started. Japan was an emerging market back in 1980s when they replaced the United States as the world's leading carmaker. It was not made by enormous funds and endless aid! It was all the result of “Lean Manufacturing”. Since then, many methods have been developed, adopted and applied, and it makes a great difference if we discover those, understand them and work on being part of the process which is big enough and complex enough to give the share to every serious opportunity seeker.


This depiction of the opportunities in emerging markets is not an invitation to relocate to one of those markets, but rather an encouragement to involve the poorest people on the earth by offering them a service or a product that they can afford. You are capable of giving them a job/business opportunity why also offering yourself the opportunity to start or grow your business. Think of involving them in a research or a study or an online activity. Don’t be surprised, companies of the fortune 500 had 161 research and development centers located in emerging markets by 2010. This means that the mentality and literature are mature enough to handle this responsibility, then why not benefit from those skills to generate a diversified study at a reasonable cost.
You think you can further develop those skills? Think of the development program you can provide, put it all in a well-structured corporate website, conduct search engine optimization to make sure you are found by organizations concerned by the development endeavors, do your regular business development efforts and you will close the deal. You may need to have a presence there for delivery but that is just minimal compared to the efforts and investment you have to spend if you didn’t have the appropriate online presence.

Do it right

These were few examples of how you can use technology to penetrate new markets with lower cost, and an attempt to shed the light on the international business current and future directions. The world will always be changing and we are lucky to exist in this era where you can start and probably close the deal from your screen and keyboard. It is not an easy mission, it takes a lot of research, a very solid business strategy, and execution plan, and talking about online, you’ll need to partner with the right party who will guide you to use technology in a modern and efficient manner.

Development, Innovation, Technology,