Truly… At Bottom of the Pyramid

August 6th, 2010

This guy selling lunch on the footpath may not have read or heard of C K Prahalad’s “Bottom of the pyramid”. But, he has truly discovered the means to find his wealth  — at the bottom of the pyramid.

Selling idli, dosa and upma for breakfast, three varieties of rice in the afternoon for lunch and dinner at night earns him much more then any of the posh restaurant makes in the vicinity. With no overheads other than the vessels he uses to cook and of course the fuel itself and the plates in which he serves, the occasional bribe to the police, and to corporation inspectors and food inspectors, he makes very good money.

He doesn’t intend to shift to a permanent structure i.e. a commercial complex or some building. He will sell only on the roadside footpath. He employs half a dozen people to help him out run the business. If he moves into some permanent structure, he will have to raise the prices and disappoint his clientele. The worst is, how will the rag picker who is one of his last customers every night be able to afford his meal? These queries have ensured he stays put.

The crowd vying to get to the food is not very different from a crowd seen in some temples jostling to get a glimpse of the deity or to get a speck of the ‘prasadam’ or ‘prasad’

Many of his clientele include the drivers of BPO vans and construction workers who work at the work sites in the vicinity.

Talk CK to him, he will probably mistake it for Calvin Klein. Well, that’s what is sold about 50 metres from where he runs his business. The security men guarding the premises is served by the roadside eatery.

While the securityman’s employer sells a Hugo Boss shirt for Rs 30,000 or more at his outlet which is almost always empty, the roadside eatery owner is also laughing all the way to the bank, I guess. I am waiting to see who survives the next rainy day.

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