An inclusive business is a sustainable business that benefits low-income communities. It is a business initiative that, keeping its for-profit nature, contributes to poverty reduction through the inclusion of low-income communities in its value chain. In simple words inclusive business is all about including the poor in the business process be it as producers, entrepreneurs or consumers.[1]

Fundamental to this idea is the belief that commercial drivers, including expanding markets for products and services and maximising profit, can be aligned with development outcomes, including creating opportunities for the poor and disadvantaged.

point of difference

Unlike corporate philanthropy and corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, which are primarily driven by ethical considerations and a desire to minimise impacts and enhance reputation, inclusive business (IB) addresses development challenges through core business activities.

IB initiatives are different to full commercial business activities due to their greater focus on poverty alleviation and achieving development outcomes.

Rather than seeing the poor as bystanders or even victims of the market, IB business models aim to include poor people in value chains as producers, employees, consumers, distributors and innovators[2].


IB initiatives aim to accrue benefits for both businesses and the poor. For business, these opportunities include generating enhanced profits, developing new markets for products, driving innovation in products and processes, expanding the labour pool, and strengthening the business value chain. For the poor, opportunities include better meeting of basic needs, enabling the poor to become more productive, increasing incomes, and empowerment.

A significant proportion of leading IB case studies directly benefit the poor through increased sustainable livelihood opportunities generated by the food and agribusiness sector.

[1], WBCSD, 2014.

[2] “Creating Value for All: Strategies for Doing Business with the Poor”, UNDP, 2008; “Spotlight on Inclusive Business”, Business Innovation Facility, 2012.