Global Prosperity Research

Our research focuses on innovations that drive sustainable economic development and growth.

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Why global prosperity?

In 2022 and 2023 alone, the US spent over $43B to end poverty. Outside of the US, many international development organizations work furiously toward the same goal. But with little or  slow progress being made, what if focusing on ending poverty is where development efforts have gone wrong? 

Initiatives focused on ending poverty typically tend to invest in resources like education, healthcare, clean water, etc. But an astonishing 70% of such reforms have lackluster results. This is because resources intended solely to end poverty are usually pushed into a local market context that isn’t quite ready to absorb and sustain them.

Instead, the goal of development initiatives should be creating prosperity—or economic and individual growth—through strategies that respond to the struggles of everyday consumers or specific market demands. As these innovative strategies are developed, they then pull in appropriate solutions, such as the infrastructure, resources, and human capital needed to bring innovations to market. These are the engines to sustainable economic development and long-lasting prosperity. Our research focuses on understanding the function, impact, and processes of these global prosperity innovations across various sectors.

This was by far the best expert session…We ALWAYS struggled to articulate our business around a framework. I am, and have become, an evangelist for The Prosperity Paradox
Vuyo Tofile
Founder and Managing Director of Timbaktuu Africa
Innovation is essential to help solve the Prosperity Paradox. Market-creating innovations are a powerful type of innovation to do that. The frameworks and theories covered during the MCI Workshop are great pieces of practical advice on how to do it. Trying to do it will require a new mindset, disciplined experimentation, strong leadership and a long-term vision.
Sergio Restrepo
VP of Innovation at Luker Chocolate

Global Prosperity Research Topics

Within the global prosperity field, theory has identified these specific research areas as currently having disruptive potential:

The challenge

Corruption is often cited as one reason why countries aren’t developing or why investors won’t focus on certain regions. Conventional thinking on corruption suggests that if countries build up good governance and institutions, as well as enforce the law, then corruption will disappear, enabling an influx of capital into regions that struggle to attract investments. This thinking, however, is not only flawed, it’s backward.

What we’re finding

Our research has found that corruption isn’t a problem, it’s a solution. People hire corruption in order to make progress. And when a society offers few legitimate options to make progress, corruption becomes more attractive. Societies don’t develop because they’ve reduced corruption, they reduce corruption because they’ve developed. By investing in a specific type of innovation, which we call market-creating innovations (MCIs), complicated and expensive products are transformed into simple and affordable ones, making them accessible to a whole new set of people called nonconsumers. Ultimately, this spurs development and reduces corruption.

The challenge

Prosperity remains elusive for many because the process of market creation is not well understood. We know that market-creating innovations transform complicated and expensive products into simple and affordable ones, making them accessible to a whole new set of people called nonconsumers. We know that in targeting these nonconsumers, a new market is created that generates profit, jobs, infrastructure and a culture change. But how exactly is a market created?

What we’re finding

Our research has revealed that there is a predictable, albeit difficult, path to market creation. There are three phases to this process: discovery, distribution, and democratization. By understanding the characteristics of each phase, innovators can increase their odds of success at market creation, especially if they perfect distribution—the unsung hero of market creation that makes discovery profitable and democratization possible.

The challenge:

Our current financial system, from venture capital funds, private equity, and banks, to the stock market and philanthropy aren’t designed to fund market-creation activities. This gap creates an opportunity to transform billions of lives and entire economies.

What we’re finding:

Historically, market creation has been financed by a blend of private and public funding. However, financing market creation isn’t always about where the money is coming from but, rather, what type of money is being invested and what structures are being used to measure success, disburse funds, and return capital. Innovators with new growth businesses require capital that is patient for growth but impatient for profit, while investors require transparent investment management and new progress metrics personalized to each venture.

Recent Global Prosperity Content

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