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The spirit of Ubuntu - profit in emerging economies relies on progressing communities

Vijay Mahajan, Professor at UT Austin and Author, is an expert in emerging economies with in-depth skills and knowledge of companies and consumers in the developing world. Here he reflects on the necessary relationship between businesses and host communities.

Professor Mahajan is author or editor of thirteen books including his recent book, Rise of Rural Consumers in Developing Countries: Harvesting 3 Billion Aspirations. He sat down with Palladium to talk Positive Impact and explain why, with 3 billion-plus rural residents in Africa and Asia alone, the opportunities for companies to make a profit is directly linked with their ability to improve the livelihood of developing country’s populations.

Palladium: If a company is looking to enter into, or expand their presence in emerging markets, what changes do they need to make to ensure their presence is profitable both now and in the long term?

Vijay Mahajan: Well Ubuntu – the word comes from South Africa. It means, I am because you are. I exist because you exist. So these companies have to realise that I cannot exist if my employees don’t exist, if my consumers don’t exist. So therefore I need to be selfish. That if I want to make profit I better take care of the people who around me. So I’m not doing them a favour. So this is a notion I built a whole thing built [in my book The 86% Solution] about why the markets in Africa are Ubuntu Markets. And if you don’t have that mind set, you simply can’t be successful in emerging markets.

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