System D: "the second-largest economy on earth, after the United States"

Why Black Market Entrepreneurs Matter to the World Economy Excerpts:
There’s a French word for someone who’s self-reliant or ingenious: débrouillard. This got sort of mutated in the postcolonial areas of Africa and the Caribbean to refer to the street economy, which is called l’économie de la débrouillardise—the self-reliance economy, or the DIY economy, if you will. I decided to use this term myself—shortening it to System D—because it’s a less pejorative way of referring to what has traditionally been called the informal economy or black market or even underground economy. I’m basically using the term to refer to all the economic activity that flies under the radar of government. ...

The sheer scale of System D is mind-blowing. ... If you think of System D as having a collective GDP, it would be on the order of $10 trillion a year. That’s a very rough calculation, which is almost certainly on the low side. If System D were a country, it would have the second-largest economy on earth, after the United States. ... Half the workers of the world are part of System D. By 2020, that will be up to two-thirds. ... Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive: They sell lots of products through the little unregistered and unlicensed stores in the developing world. And they want their products in those stores, because that’s where the customers are. ...

Basically, they hire a middleman. Procter & Gamble, for instance, realized that although Walmart is its single largest customer, System D outposts, when you total them up, actually account for more business. So Procter & Gamble decided to get its products into those stores. In each country, P&G hires a local distributor—sometimes several layers of local distributors—to get the product from a legal, formal, tax-paying company to a company willing to deal with unlicensed vendors who don’t pay taxes. That’s how Procter & Gamble gets Downy fabric softener, Tide laundry detergent, and all manner of other goods into the squatter communities of the developing world. Today, in aggregate, these markets make up the largest percentage of the company’s sales worldwide. ...

A good example is UAC Foods, which is based in Nigeria but active throughout West Africa and traded on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. It’s a highly formal company that was originally incorporated by the British more than 100 years ago. UAC Foods owns hotels and restaurants, but it also has this product called the Gala sausage roll. You never find Gala being sold in normal stores. It’s sold only by unlicensed roadside hawkers and at roadside kiosks. Basically, UAC recognized that this product wasn’t going to sell well in a normal store. But sausage rolls are in demand where people are on the go, when they need a quick snack on the side of the highway or in a traffic jam. So UAC relies on this informal phalanx of thousands of unregulated hawkers who sell Gala sausage rolls all over the streets of African cities. This is UAC’s distribution channel for this one product.
Comment: UAC foods. Image of Gala sausage roll above.

1 comment:

  1. That is so true. As an author and business man, I can relate to how you said "And they want their products in those stores, because that’s where the customers are". I hope more people discover your blog because you really know what you're talking about. Can't wait to read more from you!


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