Unleashing Inclusive Business Towards the SDGs

Jamal Uddin
By on June 10, 2016

SNV Netherlands Development Organization, Business Call to Action (BCtA), in cooperation with Inclusive Business Accelerator (IBA), The Partnering Initiative (TPI), UNDP Bangladesh and Business Fights Poverty, hosted an event introducing Inclusive Business in Bangladesh to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by world leaders in 2015.

A total of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which commits the world to ending poverty, fighting inequality and injustice, and tackling climate change by 2030. Bangladesh has taken the first step in achieving SDGs with the introduction of Inclusive Business, a significant tool in achieving the SDGs.

Inclusive Business aims for the SDGs to fulfill their potential with a more comprehensive approach that engages all tiers of society. For the private sector, this engagement stems from the unique role it can play by dislodging Bottom of the Pyramid (BoP) families from the cycle of poverty through sustainable, commercially viable and scalable business models such as Inclusive Business.
By integrating lower income households as a part of the value chain of companies’ core business, these actors within the private sector can play a major role in sustainably contributing to the SDGs.

The event provided key insights into how the private sector can be a key partner to the Bangladesh government in achieving the SDGs through Inclusive Business models, and identify challenges, incentives and best practices for the growth of Inclusive Business in Bangladesh. The event brought together leading partners in business, civil society, government, donors and other stakeholders to discuss critical challenges and innovative solutions in Inclusive Business.

Concrete observations

Many of the private organisations started responsible business practices from a philanthropic or CSR agenda. The private sector representative and government representative quietly understood the days of CSR are over but not willing to stop until better tools for replacement exist. Bangladesh is one of the best countries for Inclusive Business potential and thus needs a common platform to promote, raise awareness and accelerate. Policy support is required to familiarize Inclusive Business among businessmen.  

Sector-specific group work was very interactive. Every participant got the opportunity to ask questions and clarifications to the facilitator. The most interesting aspects were the short presentations most of the participants gained a lot of knowledge from. They then identified the opportunity in BoP market, key actors and support required to enhance the IB environment.

SNV presented the broader context of Inclusive Business in the global market and narrowed down to the opportunity in Bangladesh, allowing the participants to understand the gap between their present practice and adjustment required to their business model for inclusive growth and sustainability. Participants found the IB platform like Inclusive Business Accelerator instrumental in guiding their initiative.

Next steps
It was such a very interactive event which encouraged many of the participants to start new initiatives and many of them will be interested in redesigning their business model for future growth and sustainability. To carry forward their interest, a common platform where they can get remote support as well as one-to-one mentoring support is needed, but not present in Bangladesh. The IBA platform might be a great option if it is placed here locally.