SGFE Cambodia (A): High-energy Char Briquettes for the Bottom of the Pyramid
The case tells the story of SGFE Cambodia and its CEO, Carlo Figa Talamanca, in the period 2011-14. Talamanca has the opportunity to take over the struggling SGFE. Created by the NGO GERES to reduce deforestation in Cambodia, SGFE produces and sells char briquettes. They compete with traditional charcoal, which is mainly derived from illegal forest exploitation. Although superior, the briquettes are also more expensive, and are not well known by consumers. The question is how to penetrate the market at low cost, and how to position the products. Another question is whether SGFE can realistically achieve the social and environmental objectives of the company. Case B describes SGFE's subsequent commercial success. Getting the public to know the products was the major hurdle, but now that this step has been achieved, demand exceeds supply. Interestingly, it is the low-income vendors, at the bottom of the pyramid, who are the biggest consumers of this more expensive product. However, the social impact of SGFE is minimal and the deforestation of Cambodia continues.