Inclusive business is a private sector approach to providing goods, services, and livelihoods on a commercially viable basis, either at scale or scalable, to people at the base of the pyramid by making them part of the value chain of companies’ core business as suppliers, distributors, retailers, or customers.
Inclusive businesses expand access to goods, services, and livelihood opportunities for low-income people in commercially viable, scalable ways. These businesses provide opportunities for people living at the base of the pyramid (BOP) to step into new roles: as suppliers, as distributors, as retailers, or as customers. If a firm’s customers are low-income individuals, or if it sources from people living at the base of the pyramid, or if low-income people distribute its products through their communities or sell them in local stores, that firm is an inclusive business.
An inclusive business customizes its business model to take advantage of opportunities to work with people who live at the BOP on less than $8 per day in purchasing power parity or without access to the basic goods, services, and income generation opportunities that they need. Not only do low-income people benefit when these businesses provide greater access to basic goods, services, and livelihoods—the businesses benefit as well.
Inclusive business models are helping businesses turn underserved populations into dynamic consumer markets and diverse new sources of supply. In the process, businesses are developing product, service, and business model innovations that have the potential to tip the scales of competitive advantage in more established markets. Inclusive businesses are providing clean water, electrical power, modern communications, health care, education, financial services, and income-generating opportunities to millions of people at levels of quality and affordability they have never experienced—if they ever had access—before.