cultural sensitivity
Some of these colors are offensive to people in certain parts of the world.

So, you want to go into business to help end world poverty? Good! Then, you’d better acquaint yourself with the principles of zero-based design. Be prepared to plan from the outset to meet the challenges of scale, last-mile delivery, and other aspects of the unique problems posed by marketing to the 2.7 billion people now living on $2 a day or less. In particular, you’ll need to ensure that you don’t limit yourself to one village, one region, or even one country.


The product or service you plan to commercialize must be culturally independent.

In other words, when you pick a problem to solve that’s faced by one billion people or more (in order to ensure that you can truly reach scale), be sure you understand that there is nothing about what you propose to bring to market that will prevent its introduction in other regions or other countries. Be sure the components or ingredients you select, the color and other branding elements you choose, and the way you seek to go about marketing your product or service won’t offend potential customers in other places.

Take color, for example. “In Asia orange is a positive, spiritually enlightened, and life-affirming colour, while in the US it is a colour of road hazards, traffic delays, and fast-food restaurants.”

Paul Polak and Mal Warwick’s award-winning book, The Business Solution to Povertyhighlights 20 “takeaways” that encapsulate much of the book’s essence. Today we have featured the thirteenth of those takeaways. Future posts will include others.

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