Increasing Effectiveness of Inclusive Business a Key Contributor to the SDGs

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Increasing Effectiveness of Inclusive Business a Key Contributor to the SDGs

The Business Call to Action brings together inclusive business stakeholders with a focus on concrete development impacts

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Thursday, September 22, 2016 - 1:55pm

CONTENT: Press Release

New York, September 22, 2016 /3BL Media/ – One year ago this week, the international community achieved consensus on a historic new agenda for change and blueprint for global development – the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In line with these ambitious goals, companies all over the world are engaging in innovative business models designed to make a positive impact on poverty, inequality and other global challenges.

This year has seen a remarkable increase in the diversity and scope of inclusive business commitments in support of the SDGs, from large multinationals to social enterprises and developing country-based ventures that are including low-income communities as suppliers, distributors, retailers and customers. While these companies are engaged across many areas of business, from agriculture to information and from education to energy, they have a common objective: contributing to the SDGs through scalable and sustainable inclusive business models.

At its Seventh Annual Forum today, the Business Call to Action (BCtA), announced 42 new commitments put forth by 38 new companies including the optics company Essilor, women-focused social enterprise Northern Ghana Shea and Bhutan’s first foreign private investment initiative, Mountain Hazelnuts. There were also new commitments from four existing BCtA members: Dimagi, Jaipur Rugs, ¡Échale! A Tu Casa and MicroEnsure – building on the success of their original commitments and scaling to improve more lives and livelihoods worldwide. In all, 176 companies have made 180 inclusive business commitments since the leadership platform was launched in 2008.

This year’s member companies are working in 17 countries worldwide, with nine companies covering multiple countries and regions. The Annual Forum provided companies with an important opportunity to share lessons learned and build upon the growing body of data on the impact of inclusive business – both for businesses’ bottom line and for development.

Inclusive business models address the needs of companies while creating concrete development impacts and the potential for scaling up. But it can take decades for companies to hone their business models to the point where they achieve profitability and large-scale social impact. This year’s Annual Forum explored the why and how of businesses’ alignment with the SDGs, enabling companies to share their experiences in assessing their inclusive business models’ maturity. It also saw the presentation of a joint report and accompanying forthcoming web-based toolkit by the BCtA, Deloitte, IICPSD and UNDP, Uncharted Waters: Blending Value and Values for Social Impact Through the SDGs, which examines how to start, develop, refine and optimize inclusive business based on their current degree of readiness and maturity.

In the past year, new BCtA member companies have made significant commitments to the 17 SDGs. By 2030, these combined commitments will result in increased access to financial services for 22 million people, improved access to energy for 8 million people, improved health outcomes for over 500 million people and a 438-million-ton reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, along with many other positive outcomes. But there is still much work to be done: inclusive businesses need support to increase their development impact. And while the responsibility for inclusive business rests with entrepreneurs, the environment in which the private sector operates is just as important as the nature of the business itself.

Governments are recognizing the private sector’s key role in reaching these goals and in providing technology and data to measure progress towards them. In order to facilitate this engagement, the BCtA and the Global Reporting Initiative launched the report, Measuring Impact: How Business Accelerates the Sustainable Development Goals at this year’s Annual Forum. It provides a firsthand look at how business tools, impact measurement and sustainability reporting can be utilized to accelerate businesses’ contributions to these goals.

“Since the adoption of the SDGs, we have witnessed a tangible shift in businesses orientation towards achieving social good,” said to Paula Pelaez, Programme Manager of the Business Call to Action.  “Inclusive business is increasingly acknowledged as an effective means to secure new markets while contributing to sustainable development. As the private sector, development institutions and governments align their work with the SDGs, there has never been a more critical moment for supporting inclusive businesses’ efforts to pave the way for transformational change.”

The BCtA is assisting inclusive businesses in leveraging the SDGs to build inclusive value chains that empower local communities while ensuring healthy returns. This Seventh Annual Forum, taking place in conjunction with the 71th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, brought together leaders from prominent BCtA member companies along with senior decision makers from governments, bilateral donors, civil society and the United Nations to maximize the contributions of inclusive business to the SDGs.  

“Business Call to Action member companies have demonstrated that there is real demand for products and services at the bottom of the economic pyramid – including in healthcare, financial services and renewable energy,” said Marcos Neto, Director, UNDP’s Istanbul International Center for Private Sector Development. There is also greater recognition of developing markets’ importance for business growth; however the majority of private investment remains concentrated at the top of the pyramid. There are still considerable opportunities for business impact in low-income markets. We need to accelerate our efforts with the business community and work towards a future in which inclusive business reaches the mainstream. That is the key to achieving the SDGs.”

New Business Call to Action Member Commitments 2016 Include:

  • Africaqua: Access to safe drinking water through the establishment of Watershops in rural Kenya
  • Ansaar Management Company (AMC): Quality affordable housing for the low-Income sector in Pakistan
  • Asahi Kasei: Building an inclusive textile value chain in India with cupro (an eco-friendly cellulose fiber)
  • Big Tree Farms: Supporting coconut sugar and cacao farmers through organic certification and quality improvement
  • biMBA AIUEO: Developing Indonesia’s next generation of lifelong independent learners
  • Biomass Supplies Ltd: Partnering with smallholder farmers in Sri Lanka to provide a sustainable supply of alternative energy
  • Boond: Expanding energy access to rural India through smart pre-paid solar micro-grids
  • BuffaloGrid: Using solar energy to provide affordable mobile power and Internet services
  • Crezcamos: Providing financial services for rural micro-entrepreneurs in Colombia
  • DataMotivate: Training and employment for human trafficking survivors in the Philippines
  • DBL Group: Empowering garment-industry employees in Bangladesh
  • Digicel Asia-Pacific: Fast-tracking mobile and solar solutions in Papua New Guinea
  • Dimagi, Inc: Equipping frontline workers with powerful mobile applications for better healthcare
  • Direct Fresh Ltd: Providing sustainable, chemical-free, traceable produce by supporting smallholder producers
  • East Bali Cashews: Securing a sustainable supply of cashews while empowering Indonesia's smallholder farmers
  • ¡Échale! A Tu Casa: Scaling up to provide access to sustainable housing in new regions of Mexico
  • EPAM Systems, Inc. University Programme builds IT capacity across Central and Eastern Europe
  • East West Seed Indonesia (EWINDO): Technical assistance, extension services and information to increase smallholders’ incomes
  • Essilor: Providing access to eyeglasses for low-income people and promoting inclusion in rural communities
  • Fargreen: Providing smallholder rice farmers with sustainable incomes in Vietnam
  • Green Generation: Providing clean biomass cook stoves to low-income communities in Vietnam and beyond
  • Habvita: Expanding affordable housing and basic services in rural Mexico
  • Ironbark Citrus: Expanding opportunities for smallholder farming families in Laos
  • Jacaranda Health: Access to quality maternal and child healthcare for low-income communities in Kenya
  • Jaipur Rugs: Empowering rural India by building sustainable livelihoods in the carpet value chain        
  • JKH Naturals: Integrating small-scale female farmers in Senegal into the company’s impact sourcing initiative       
  • Little Sun: Delivering clean, affordable, solar light to the people in off-grid areas              
  • Microensure: Providing affordable mobile-based life and health insurance globally            
  • Mobisol: Scaling up innovative and inclusive solar solutions in Kenya
  • Mountain Hazelnuts: Developing a women-focused inclusive hazelnut value chain in Bhutan
  • Nizam Energy: Delivering clean, reliable and affordable energy solutions to off-grid communities in Pakistan
  • Northern Ghana Shea: Engaging rural Ghanaian women shea butter producers in market value chains
  • Nutriset: Addressing malnutrition by strengthening local sourcing and production of nutritional products
  • Pagatech: Expanding access to mobile financial services for underserved populations in Nigeria
  • Partex Agro: High-quality agricultural inputs for food security and livelihoods in Bangladesh
  • Square Toiletries Limited: Bringing change to the ready-made Garments sector in Bangladesh
  • Tapp Commerce: Giving Southeast Asia’s consumers and merchants an easier way to pay for essential services
  • Tone: Bridging the digital divide in emerging markets for sustainable development
  • Universal Corporation Limited: Providing affordable, high-quality generic medicines to low-income communities in Kenya
  • Urmatt: Improving livelihoods in Northern Thailand through free-range organic egg production
  • Watersprint: Providing safe and clean drinking water to low-income populations in Bangladesh

For further information, contact: Tatiana Bessarabova at

About the Business Call to Action (BCtA): Launched at the United Nations in 2008, the Business Call to Action (BCtA) aims to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that offer the potential for both commercial success and development impact. BCtA is a unique multilateral alliance between key donor governments including the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida)UK Department for International DevelopmentUS Agency for International Development, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Finland, and the United Nations Development Programme — which hosts the secretariat. For more information, please visit or on Twitter at @BCtAInitiative.

CONTENT: Press Release