Most consumers who comprise "the bottom of the pyramid" reside in hundreds of thousands of villages located beyond most multinationals' distribution networks. Their access to essential goods is limited not just by high prices, but also by inadequate rural distribution, which also restricts the ability of poor producers to distribute their products. The term "socially responsible distribution" describes initiatives that provide poor producers and consumers with market access for goods and services that they can benefit from by either buying or selling, thus neutralizing the disadvantages they suffer due to inadequate physical links to markets, information asymmetries, and weak bargaining power. This article identifies how socially responsible distribution can be achieved by strategies that reduce costs, reinvent the distribution channel, or incorporate a long-term approach to investment. It offers guidelines for setting up distribution channels that integrate the rural bottom of the pyramid and identifies the payoffs from adopting them.
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