Kenya bound - Piloting the BoP Protocol

The BoP Protocol
Regular BRINQ readers may have noticed a lack of posting the last couple of weeks, this is because we've been working overtime getting ready for the Base of the Pyramid (BoP) Protocol pilot in Kenya, where we'll be hitting the ground in just two weeks. For a quick summary of the Protocol, it answers the following question:

"How can the multinational collaborate with the poor to enable new businesses and discover innovation?"

The past two months have been an intense period of training in participatory techniques and immersing ourselves in the details of our corporate and NGO sponsors and partners, which include SC Johnson, ApproTEC and host of others. We've got a pretty impressive group of folks heading over there, intelligent with diverse experiences, but hungry for new perspectives and ideas. Much of our prep work involves understanding our own cultural accents, assumptions, and goals as well as becoming comfortable with the idea that our ignorance as much as our expertise has value and that some uncertainty just can't be planned for.

Some questions we're already dealing with include:

  • Creating local capacity vs. playing development tourist
  • Best use of online resources for chronicling, communication, and idea sharing
  • How to establish an in-country base camp and open idea bank, where to locate, what it looks like, when to do it, how to give it permanence
  • Managing corporate/non-corporate partnerships (MNCs, NGOs, governments, universities), how to build trust
  • Seeking out fringe stakeholders, how to hear the unheard, how to even find them
  • Unlocking organizational viewpoints: “granting a license to imagine”, getting “experts”, both local and foreign, comfortable with assuming ignorance to create new ideas
  • Translation vs. Learning vs. Creation – e.g. not just understanding Kenyans, not just becoming more Kenyan, but creating something uniquely Kenyan and American (more than the two alone)

In August we'll be holding two idea generation workshops, one in the Nakuru district of Kenya, and one in the Kibera slums near Nairobi, bringing in folks from all walks of life, many of whom we'll have contacted or worked with in the months before. Those ideas will then go through a business development process in the Fall for our sponsors. In October, we'll run another workshop for the Protocol itself (here in the U.S.), folding in the pilot experiences and filling it in with more life stories and tips.

All in all a very exciting time here at BRINQ! You can guarantee that we'll be looking for innovations and toys to blog about in Kenya, so stay tuned!

Additional Links and Resources:
BoP Protocol Pilot Project Page - - the latest info on the pilot, plans, and team
The Base of the Pyramid Protocol - - the Draft and history of the protocol is available
Protocol Principles - don't have time to read the whole Protocol? Start with the Principles.