A Message to Entrepreneurs: This Is About Missing Entire Markets, Not Just Marketing Opportunities

Interview with Sahba Sobhani, UNDP by Carolina Zishiri and Patrick Scheffer
Jan 18, 2019 12:10 PM ET
Summary: 

Sahba Sobhani is a Global Programme Advisor-Private Sector in the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support (BPPS), UN Development Programme (UNDP). He provides programme support and policy advice on private sector development issues and technical oversight for UNDP’s multi-stakeholder initiatives including the Business Call to Action Initiative, the Connecting Business Initiative and the G20 Global Platform on Inclusive Business. Previously, he managed two key UNDP private sector initiatives. He is a graduate of Yale University and the Fletcher School of Diplomacy (USA).

Article

Could you briefly introduce yourself and the work you are doing at UNDP?
My name is Sahba Sobhani. I am the Global Program Advisor for Private Sector Development and Partnerships at UNDP.

As we know, large parts of the world´s population are excluded from markets, so the focus of our work around the private sector has been making markets work for the poor and inclusive business activities. Other agencies, like the World Bank, have been focused on business environment reforms and competitiveness. Focusing on inclusive markets has been our comparative niche.

How can companies integrate a more holistic view into their business model—one that acknowledges social and environmental aspects?
The poor are strongly dependent on environmental resources for their livelihoods but are also affected by environmental degradation. At the same time, there has been an increase in living standards that leads to resource use. It is very important to link both development and sustainability to the Sustainable Development Goals. And it is not just about carbon credits. It is about new kinds of business models and opportunities that deliver on clean water, energy, sanitation, agribusiness and ecosystem services. In this context, I see the business model opportunity for companies to look at as the nexus of poverty and the environment.

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