By operating in war zones, urban slums, and deep rural areas, companies could not only achieve growth and profits, but could also improve the economic and social conditions of these impoverished regions. Yet how can a company operate in areas with unstable security, poor infrastructure, and little or no formal legal frameworks in place? To do so successfully, companies need to go beyond transactional alliances or legalistic business partnerships with local partners. Instead, they need to develop community buy-in and long-term personal relationships based on trust with “unorthodox” local inhabitants—the ones offering them security and protection rather than technology and business assets. Such deep social embeddedness is not cost-free. To prevent it from derailing their success, companies need to nurture and grow their local partners beyond their specific needs.
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