Erik Simanis, PhD ’10, Contributes to A Planet for Life 2013


His chapter, “Bringing the Bottom of the Pyramid into Business Focus,” addresses the poverty alleviation potential of corporations.

The 2013 edition of the book, A Planet for Life Series — Sustainable Development in Action, officially launched on Feb. 1, during the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit. The book includes a chapter from Erik Simanis, PhD ’10, managing director of Market Creation Strategies at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise.

The book is a compilation of 30 contributions from 53 authors from all across the world, including Jeffrey Sachs of The Earth Institute. It represents a unique, international initiative on inequalities, grounded on conceptual and strategic thinking and empirical experiments conducted on five continents and touching multiple realities. This unprecedented collection of works proposes a solid, empirical approach, rather than an ideological one, to inform future debate. It is being translated into Chinese and French.

Simanis’ chapter, titled “Bringing the Bottom of the Pyramid into Business Focus,” critically assesses the proposition that corporations can simultaneously grow sales and profits and alleviate global poverty by developing products for the so-called “Bottom of the Pyramid” — the four billion poorest consumers globally. Drawing on more than a decade of hands-on experience leading and working with corporate business ventures targeting low-income consumers in Africa, India, and Latin America, Simanis addresses what he believes are key misconceptions concerning the roots of business success/failure and the poverty alleviation potential of corporations more broadly. “The issues discussed reach from the field level all the way up to the boardroom,” he says.

Erik Simanis is managing director of Market Creation Strategies at Johnson’s Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise. His applied research focuses on advancing innovation and business development strategies for commercializing new product categories, particularly in emerging markets. Erik has led and consulted for new business ventures in India, Africa, Mexico, the former Soviet Union, and the United States and has held management positions in the wood products and transportation industries. His recent work is published in the Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, Sloan Management Review, and the journal Innovations. Erik holds a PhD in Management from Johnson at Cornell University, an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he received the Norman Block Award for highest academic achievement, and a BA magna cum laude from Wake Forest University.