September 2011


This Blog has focussed the need to move beyond mainstream logistics and supply chain thinking relevant to the developed world and respond to a quite different context in emerging, developing and devastated markets – Transformational Logistics. Increasingly, we see this agenda as having wider scope; that a Transformational agenda is highly relevant to other spheres where local context needs to be respected with a triple bottom line of planet and people as well as profits to be considered.

Vertical means developed world architecture

A while back, I went to the Whitechapel Gallery in London and saw Twins, a piece by the Indian photographer Rashid Rana. From a distance, the two prints (171 x 228 cm) are streaked with light. Close up, each canvas is made up of tiny photographs of dwellings characteristic of the Majority World. It reminds me of the view from a plane on a landing approach anywhere from Jakarta to Soweto; Luanda to Rio; Dharavi in Mumbai and the adjacent Financial District. (more…)

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Global business is under pressure with sluggish growth or recession in the developed world and huge potential in emerging and developing markets demanding the infrastructure and skills to deliver sustainable growth. There are industries led by MNCs (Multi National Corporations) that straddle frontiers characterised by modern, high tech and consolidated operators and others that remain local, traditional, low tech and fragmented. And yet, there is more to be gained by seeing these extremes as part of a continuum and not as opposing forces to explore mutually beneficial initiatives that can enable us to understand better how supply chains function in all sorts of traditional, modern or hybrid contexts.

This story picks up momentum on a beach in Rushikonda, just 13 kms from Vishakhapatnam on one of the best rated beaches on the south east Indian coast. One morning Rob Bell was walking the beach and, having taken a photo of a fishing boat on its way back to the shore continued the sequence on to the beach; unloading the nets; sorting the species and sizes and then, as the women arrived to trade with agents, an idea took shape …

Off to market

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Last year, Dr Graham Hamilton of Yorks St John University led a team visiting the NAESEY Project in Tamil Nadu – a training initiative for the rural unemployed. This year they repeated the trip which featured a design initiative led by James Fathers – also of York St John. Here are some notes built from discussions with the team leaders and, observations from  Nottingham University student Ben Hagyard, the winner of an Archomai Studentship to Naesey and an excellent exponent of the spirit of enquiry!

Adding value building livelihoods through design

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Much is made of BIG Retail with more than 80% of the retail market in the US; the UK and most of the EU in the hands of major retailers. Now, in many emerging and developing markets the debate on modern International retailers expanding into emerging markets has polarised debate. Some claim that International Retailers are a vital catalyst to serve the needs of increasingly prosperous consumers; others warn that corporate imperatives are not always compatible with local needs. Whichever side of the argument you are on, both tend to agree that BIG Retail knows how to generate profitable business – or does it?

In recent weeks, stories have started to appear about International retailers reporting profits warnings because of a combination of fragile economic conditions in their domestic markets and, difficult trading conditions in emerging and developing markets. Are these the first signs that the major retailers do not have all the answers? First, the background.

It takes all sorts

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