The following is the full transcript of an interview with Mark Ruiz, the founder of Hapinoy, a franchise of sari-sari stores in the Philippines. It is a companion piece to an article published on NextBillion.
Develop Economies: How did Hapinoy start? What, in your opinion, was the problem? Why is Hapinoy the right innovation for solving this problem?
Mark Ruiz: Hapinoy started as a fusion of paradigms, ideas, and people. In terms of paradigms, we wanted to fuse social development with the discipline of business. It started a combination of people from social development and the business sector. We wanted representation from a diverse set of relevant backgrounds, including microfinance, NGO’s, government, as well as corporate experience in distribution/marketing/sales/advertising, and entrepreneurship.
There were three fundamental problems we were looking at:
- The products and services needed by the bottom of the pyramid (BoP) don’t reach them. The operative word is needed – for example, medicine, water, and electricity.
- The products and services that do reach the BoP end up becoming more expensive due to distribution inefficiency. The poor end up paying more for noodles and shampoo than those who have money!
- The BoP doesn’t have access to market opportunities, whether it is sari-sari stores looking for financing, new businesses, etc. or microproducers looking for a distribution/market for their products.
There’s a fundamental gap to the BoP. So we ask ourselves – how do we bridge this gap? How do we enable the last mile and bring products, services, and opportunities to where they’re needed the most?