Driving impact through base of the pyramid distribution models: The role of intermediaries

Valeria Varga, Eugenia Rosca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The purpose of this paper is to answer the following research question: how can intermediaries contribute to social impact creation through their interventions at different levels of distribution networks in the base of the pyramid (BoP) markets?

The paper adopts an embedded case study of an intermediary organization. The analysis focuses on the intervention of the intermediary on the distribution stages of supply chains in four different projects in the food sector in Ethiopia, Benin, Nigeria and Bangladesh.

The embedded case study reveals essential formal and informal roles undertaken by the intermediary organization to develop decentralized distribution networks based on local micro-entrepreneurs. The study proposes that efforts undertaken by the intermediaries toward knowledge sharing and capacity building among partners can enable the adoption of pro-poor strategies across the supply chain. Moreover, hybrid intermediaries can act as “guardians” of the mutual value creation approach since one of their key roles is to advocate the needs of the BoP.

Research limitations/implications
Important implications for improving nutrition and food security in the BoP markets are developed based on the empirical findings. The findings open avenues for further research into the antecedents of retention rates in distribution networks based on local micro-entrepreneurs.

Practical implications
Findings have implications for different types of BoP initiatives by highlighting how intermediary organizations intervene to develop distribution models with a special focus on social impact.

This paper fills an important research gap by discussing social impact aspects in BoP supply chains by adopting the perspective of intermediary organizations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)492-513
JournalInternational Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • market development
  • social value creation
  • social impact
  • base of the pyramid
  • intermidiaries


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