October 11, 2011
To promote collaboration with companies and other organizations on base of the pyramid (BoP) business, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) started the "Preparatory Survey for BOP business promotion" last fiscal year, and selected 20 survey projects. The second public announcement, the first for this fiscal year, was made on June 15, 2011, and JICA has adopted 13 proposals against 73 proposals submitted from various companies and orgnizations.
Under this scheme, proposals from companies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and others considering undertaking BoP business to solve development problems will be solicited through public announcements, and studies will be commissioned to the parties which won the competition. For each study JICA will bear study expenses up to 50 million yen. In response to this announcement, 73 submissions were received from 119 organizations, showing an extremely high level of interest, continuing from the initial call.
The companies and organizations who submitted the 73 proposals are composed of private companies (84%) - including manufacturers, development consultants and service sectors - along with NGOs and non-profit organizations (13%), local governments (1%) and universities (3%). About 70% of the private companies were small and medium-sized enterprises. The regions of the proposed projects ranged from Southeast Asia (42%) and South Asia (32%) to Africa (16%), and rural development, natural resources and energy, and water attracted much of their attention.
BoP business, sometimes referred to as inclusive business, has drawn a great deal of attention as a new approach that uses business principles to solve problems in developing countries that cannot be accomplished by aid agencies alone, and various bilateral and international aid agencies have been actively promoting cooperation with BoP business in recent years. Within JICA as well, this study system is positioned as a measure aligned with JICA's vision of "inclusive and dynamic development" as well as with "promoting development partnerships," one of the four vital strategies to achieve that vision. Furthermore, this scheme aims to promote formulation of JICA's future projects while also allowing Japanese companies to put their strengths to work toward the same end.
JICA indirectly supports the efforts of companies to develop proposals selected in the first round of projects, and is conducting surveys with partner companies for creating projects out of the proposals received in this second round.