Global Issues Demand a Global Response: How Inclusive Businesses Are Innovating and Collaborating to Drive Social and Environmental Impact

Sep 27, 2019 1:10 PM ET
Press Release

NEW YORK, September 27, 2019 /3BL Media/ - Overcoming global challenges such as poverty and climate change demand a collective effort – no longer can tackling these issues be considered just the domain of development actors. Recognizing this, leading inclusive business actors gathered today to share their ideas on how innovation, collaboration and emerging models can bring new solutions to these intractable, yet urgent, issues at Business Call to Action’s 9th Annual Forum.

The event, Inclusive Business: Emerging Models, collaboration and Innovation, brought together over 150 business leaders, inclusive business actors, development professionals and academics to explore how inclusive business (a business model which includes people living at the base of the economic pyramid [BoP] in their company value chains as employees, suppliers, producers and more), is enabling the private sector to play a crucial role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by tackling climate change, reducing poverty, improving gender equality and creating fair work conditions for low income earners.

“Low income earners are often strongly dependent on environmental resources for their livelihoods and are also affected by environmental degradation. Therefore it is very important to link both development and sustainability to the Sustainable Development Goals. But it’s 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. Finding solutions to these challenges opens up new markets opportunities for companies, and the experiences we’ve heard from companies speaking today demonstrate how collaboration and innovation is enabling inclusive businesses to achieve greater results than ever before,” said ad-interim Head of BCtA Sahba Sobhani.

India’s Saahas Zero Waste, a waste management company that applies circular economy principles, has made SDG contribution a central part of their mandate, according to the company’s founder and CEP Wilma Rodrigues.

“Saahas Zero Waste is structured so as to align with the objectives of the SDGs, and meeting these goals has become the driving force of the company. The objective of the transition was to demonstrate a business model which would provide a solution for waste management in India while keeping its focus on environment and social impact,” said Rodrigues.

In addition, we’re seeing more and more inspiring collaborations that are achieving exponential social and environmental impact, demonstrating the value of partnerships, and the opportunities for innovation that these alliances allow. BCtA member company Essilor recently partnered with Chinese commerce giant AliBaba to provide access to eye care for thousands of rural low income earners across China that would never have been able to access it before. Similarly, in Africa, another BCtA member, Mastercard, is connecting millions of small-scale farmers with potential buyers and enabling them to improve their financial security by building digital transaction records through its partnership with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the United States African Development Foundation (USADF).

The motivation to make a significant social or environmental impact is more than altruism - inclusive businesses are increasingly recognising that prioritising these targets can also result in improved commercial success.

“One of the most important factors behind our accomplishment had been our business model which focuses on sustainable development, engages with different stakeholders and adopts an inclusive approach,” said Gamze Cizreli, Founder and Partner of BigChefs Café, a Turkish restaurant chain that takes a farm-to-table approach.

Saahas Zero Waste, Essilor, Mastercard and Big Chefs were just four of the 27 companies who convened at the BCtA Annual Forum today to share their experiences on how collaboration, innovation and emerging models are helping them to align business profit with purpose.

For further information: 

Aimee Brown, BCtA Communications Lead: aimee.brown@undp.org    

About Business Call to Action (BCtA): Launched in 2008, BCtA aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that engage people with less than US$10 per day in purchasing power (in 2015 dollars) as consumers, producers, suppliers and distributors. Over 240 companies, ranging from multinationals to social enterprises, and working in 70 countries, have responded to the BCtA by committing to improve the lives and livelihoods of millions in developing countries through access to markets, financial services, affordable healthcare, water and sanitation, education and other critical services. BCtA is supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), UK Department for International Development (DFID), and hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). For more information, please visit www.businesscalltoaction.org.