Inclusive Business

By integrating the “base of the economic pyramid” into value chains as suppliers, employees, distributors, retailers, and customers using commercially-viable methods, the private sector can foster opportunity, expand access, and improve lives through solutions that are sustainable, replicable, and scalable. This is what we refer to as Inclusive Business.

IFC Inclusive Business Factsheet

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Directly reaching the poor and underserved is one fundamental way for the private sector to help end poverty by 2030.

What is Inclusive Business?

Inclusive businesses provide livelihood opportunities and close access gaps for people living at the base of the economic pyramid. They do this in ways that are commercially and financially self-sustaining by focusing on poor and underserved individuals across their value chain as supplier, employee, distributor, retailer, or customer.

Why is Inclusive Business important?

Inclusive businesses play a fundamental role in achieving the World Bank Group’s goals of reducing poverty and increasing shared prosperity. These companies address pervasive development gaps, including the 2.4 billion people who lack access to basic sanitation, the 2 billion people who are unbanked, the 1.2 billion people who lack reliable electricity, and the 121 million children who are not in school, among others. COVID-19 is deepening these gaps and pushing millions more into poverty, making inclusive businesses as critical now as ever. The G20 recognized the importance of inclusive business in the implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals aimed at ending poverty by 2030.

Maximizing our Inclusive Impact

IFC supports inclusive business across the institution through our investment and advisory work. IFC also advances inclusive business by:

Creating Solutions for Clients 

IFC works with clients to develop tailored operational solutions that support client performance and expand a project’s inclusion impact. It also conducts research and explores new financing structures that generate positive impact for people at the base of the pyramid.

Delivering Thought Leadership

To inform IFC operations and shape the inclusive business field, IFC documents and disseminates knowledge about effective inclusive business models and practices. This includes nearly 50 inclusive business case studies from across IFC’s portfolio and a note on how inclusive businesses adapted during COVID-19 to address the needs of base of the pyramid stakeholders. 

Developing and Applying Inclusive Strategies

IFC advances inclusive business frameworks to foster inclusiveness in its investments. It has developed sector-based tools to assess the inclusive business elements in its investments and systematically reviews all projects to identify, classify, and increase inclusive business across sectors. IFC also uses its inclusive business framework to identify projects eligible for its Social Bond Program.

The impact of IFC Inclusive Business clients in 2021:

  • 29.9 Million Loans Provided
  • 10.3 Million PATIENTS CARED FOR

At a Glance

Companies increasingly recognize the business benefits of an inclusive approach—from expanded market share to a diversified supply chain and more. Inclusive Business has proven to be good business.

With $25 billion committed to inclusive businesses since 2005, IFC is a leading Inclusive Business investor. These investments reach all industries, including financial markets, agribusiness, health, education, technology, and infrastructure.

IFC champions Inclusive Business by developing strategies to foster inclusiveness in investments, creating solutions for clients, and delivering thought leadership.