Understanding Inclusive Business

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What is Inclusive Business?

Inclusive businesses bring people living at the base of the economic pyramid—those who are poor or underserved—into value chains as suppliers, distributors, retailers, or customers. The dual focus of Inclusive Business—achieving both commercial viability and development impact—fosters opportunity and expands access using private-sector solutions that are sustainable, replicable, and scalable.


Why is Inclusive Business important?

Inclusive businesses work to improve access and opportunity for people at the base of the pyramid, no matter where they live—in the poorest of nations or in the thriving, middle-income countries that are home to 73 percent of the world’s poor people. It puts the power of the private sector to work to address critical development gaps, including:

  • 2.4 billion people lack basic sanitation
  • 2 billion people are unbanked
  • 1.2 billion people lack reliable electricity
  • 700 million lack access to water services
  • 400 million people lack essential healthcare
  • 121 million children are not in school


How is IFC advancing Inclusive Business?

IFC supports inclusive business across the institution through our investment and advisory work. IFC also generates research, analysis, and lessons from its experience.

  • Leading inclusive business investor: IFC invests between $1–2 billion in inclusive businesses annually. Over the past five years, inclusive business commitments represented 17 percent of IFC’s overall long-term finance. These investments reach all industries, including financial markets, agribusiness, services, technology, and infrastructure. 
  • Global knowledge and expertise:  IFC co-created the G20 Inclusive Business Framework as a model for member and non-member countries. IFC also shares its sector expertise and advisory services to increase inclusion, maximize impact, and create connections among clients within its global network.
  • Capital mobilization: IFC is a leader in the emerging social bond space, having issued over $1 billion in social bonds to fund inclusive projects. IFC also leverages concessional finance windows for inclusive business.