Clearly, the Last Mile video (see below) has struck a chord in many places all over the developed, fractured and emerging world. Many thanks for the comments. More has to be done on infrastructure. However, several commentators stress that this is only part of the story. What about the roads to the marketplace and the perils beyond the potholes… (more…)


Florida has an ideal climate to retire to and, with tourist magnets like Disney World at Orlando, to chill out in. This makes for high demand on the hospitality and service sector in general and this in turn drives a demand for labour mainly from the informal market. Leaving aside the the labour issues of the grey or parallel economy let’s turn to hygiene factors; the hospitality industry in the developed world, other emerging tourist hot spots and then, consider the signicance of these issues elsewhere – along the supply chain in general. (more…)

According to Informa (November 2008) there will be 4.81 billion mobile phone subscribers by 2012. Emerging markets will generate 60% of this total and the next billion users will be won by those companies who can offer services that will be relevant to the poor. Enhanced voice and data connectivity will generate huge opportunities in social networking and then, open up huge potential in business transactions and, will enable the transformation of the Logistics of sourcing, distribution and  waste management. This entry illustrates the point and hopes to stimulate Case Studies and research opportunities going forward.


One of the biggest challenges in any emerging or fast growing economy is infrastructure. The Chinese have been superb at this. For example, the Pearl River Delta story starts with building up the clusters that delivered the roads, the railways and port connectivity. Manufacturing and textiles followed as market access (in/out) was sorted out. Exports exploded. Imports of vital resources were speeded up. The rest is history. The idea was to build capacity, supply would follow and demand would be triggered. Sustainable growth was the prize. Elsewhere, it is as if they build the house starting with the smoke coming out of the chimney. 

This video illustrates just why logistics has to be enabled for any economy to be transformed at the grassroots and not just at the macro level. It takes place in Chennai, India. Let’s be clear – it could be elsewhere. It is a wake up call. 

India will spend between $350 to $550 billion on infrastruture in the coming years. How much on the last mile? And how quickly? 95% of Indian exportsand nearly 70% in value terms are carried by sea and pass through the ports. The export-import (exim) trade has grown at an impressive compounded annual growth rate of 13.4% during the last ten years. Containerised traffic stands at 25% of exim trade and this will grow to 18m TEUs by 2013-14 in major ports. This is up from an estimated 8 m TEUS for 2008. And trucks move most of this through areas such as the ones highlighted on this video. Food for thought.  (more…)

There are villages of West Bengal where the rural economy hinges on one or other particular activity. One cluster of craftsmen churn out wigs, another lights, another polo balls, another boats and another jeans.[i] Porter (1998) defined clusters as “critical masses in one place of linked industries” as the basis for competititive advantage and all over the world this specialisation is a feature of the informal economy. In fact, industrial clusters are a common rather than an exceptional form of development in India and elsewhere. What role does the informal economy play in cluster development?


The informal market does not lend itself to a one size fits all distribution system. On the one hand, we have the issues raised by crowded urban environments and, on the other, the issue of access to highly dispersed and remote rural communities. The cost of reaching each consumer varies greatly and this is where the field marketing and neighbourhood based sales initiatives covered above can be so successful.  


The building of Regional powerhouses creates world class infrastructure and, accelerates industrial clusters and specialisation. However, there is an impact on the Informal Economy. The Delhi Mumbai Dedicated freight Corridor is another case in point.[i]