The Prosperity Paradox

How innovation can lift nations out of poverty

Global poverty is one of the world’s most vexing problems, but there is a paradox at the heart of our approach to solving poverty. While noble, our current solutions are not producing consistent results, and in some cases, have exacerbated the problem. Applying the rigorous and theory-driven analysis, the Prosperity Paradox suggests a better way. We assert that the right kind of innovation can not only build companies–but build countries. In The Prosperity Paradox, we identify the limits of common economic development models, which tend to be top-down efforts, and offer a new framework for economic growth based on entrepreneurship and market-creating innovation.

The ideas in this book will help companies desperate for real, long-term growth see actual, sustainable progress where they’ve failed before. But The Prosperity Paradox is more than a business book; it is a call to action for anyone who wants a fresh take for making the world a better and more prosperous place.


Clay is the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, where he teaches one of the most popular elective classes for second year students. He is regarded as one of the world’s top experts on innovation and growth and his ideas have been widely used in industries and organizations throughout the world. A 2011 cover story in Forbes magazine noted that ‘’Every day business leaders call him or make the pilgrimage to his office in Boston, Mass. to get advice or thank him for his ideas.’’ In 2011 in a poll of thousands of executives, consultants and business school professors, Christensen was named as the most influential business thinker in the world.

Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Clay worked as a missionary for his church in the Republic of Korea from 1971 to 1973, where he learned to speak fluent Korean. He continues to serve in his church in as many ways as he can.

Clay Christensen

Karen was the Editor of Harvard Business Review, arguably the most influential management magazine in the world. She was one of only 5 people selected for the company’s designated high-potential “Leadership Cohort” development program in 2008. She has been managing people since very early in her career, which has led to a particular interest in the topics of leadership and managing and developing people — as well as managing yourself. During her tenure at HBR it has twice been honored as a finalist for General Excellence at the National Magazine Awards.

Prior to joining HBR, she was deputy editor of Inc., a monthly magazine for entrepreneurs, for which she managed its 37-person editorial staff. Previously she was editor and publisher of the critically acclaimed The American Lawyer, which was also honored repeatedly by the National Magazine Awards during her tenure. While at The American Lawyer, she also spent four years in London as the editor of its European affiliate, Legal Business, which was named Editorial Team of the Year by the U.K. Press Gazette in 1994. She was also named Feature Writer of the Year runner-up by the U.K. Press Gazette in 1993.

Karen Dillon

Efosa Ojomo’s work focuses on the intersection of innovation and economic development. He is on a mission to use business and disruptive innovation to create prosperity in emerging markets. A research fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, Ojomo works alongside colleague and mentor Harvard Business School Professor Clay Christensen in their shared goal to discover, develop and disseminate robust and accessible theory in the areas of disruptive innovation and general management. Ojomo’s body of work will ultimately help entrepreneurs, policy makers and development practitioners spur prosperity in their regions.

Specifically, Ojomo’s research examines how emerging markets in sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South America, and Asia can engender prosperity for their citizens by focusing on investments in market creating innovations, such as M-PESA, the mobile money transfer platform in Kenya. These innovations, which transform complicated and/or expensive products into simpler and less expensive products for populations who historically could not access them, are unique for their ability to spur long-term economic growth and create employment, a necessary condition for economic development.

Ojomo, who came to the U.S. from Nigeria to attend college, worked as an engineer and in business development for National Instruments for eight years following graduation. He soon realized his purpose was much larger than himself. Inspired by a young Ethiopian girl’s story of debilitating poverty, Ojomo started the nonprofit Poverty Stops Here. Since then, he has rallied hundreds of people around his vision and touched the lives of hundreds more. But his ambition is to transform lives; his work at the Christensen Institute is getting him closer to that goal.

Ojomo graduated with honors from Vanderbilt University with a degree in computer engineering. He earned his MBA from Harvard Business School.

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Efosa Ojomo