07/19/2012 11:43 am ET | Updated Sep 18, 2012

Poverty Revisited

A fundamental step toward reversing conditions of underdevelopment is rethinking concepts and trying to understand our complex reality: looking at things from a new point of view.

Let's start with the words. "Poverty" is a word that has traditionally been used to designate the lowest-income strata of the population. However, it is a rather unfortunate term. Without wanting to use euphemisms, at Grupo Salinas we prefer to use the phrase "base of the pyramid" to describe this sector of the population, which is fundamental for our business.

This concept has resonated since it was presented by Professor C.K. Prahalad in his book The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid. Actually, the term was first used by U.S. President Roosevelt in 1932.

Professor Prahalad's work proposes the use of profitability as an incentive for eradicating poverty through business initiatives. This is a fundamental concept that Grupo Salinas has developed over the last 100 years.

What is it that we like about this concept and terminology? First of all, it is a proactive way of referring to this segment of the population, which represents an enormous potential for economic growth. The word "poverty" emphasizes the idea of deficiency. But from our point of view and that of Professor C.K. Prahalad, there is enormous potential wealth in this stratum of the population that has faced a lack of opportunities.

Let's start by opening up new, non-discriminatory paradigms.

At the end of the day, isn't it discriminatory to not offer the same products and services to the base of the pyramid as to the better-off? People at the base of the pyramid deserve access to first-class products and services with affordable terms of payment. Figuring out how is our duty as businessmen.

More than charity, the base of the pyramid needs and demands opportunities and tools for working and facilitating their lives. Only that will unleash their great potential wealth. That is where the real possibility for development lies. It should come as no surprise that Grupo Salinas focuses its resources where it has the greatest possibility to grow.