Inclusive Business

Inclusive business models integrate the poor as consumers, distributors, suppliers or employees – and can benefit from various forms of support, e.g. developing an enabling environment, value chains, or engaging individual businesses to facilitate risky investments. Some argue in favour of adapting support specifically to inclusive business. This page explores debates, current practice and advice.

At a glance: Short reads on inclusive business

  • Synthesis Note: Current Debates on Inclusive Business, DCED, 2017. 4-page summary of current debates on what inclusive businesses are, whether they can effectively reach the poor and how best to support them and measure their results. Key take-aways include:

    • There is broad agreement that inclusive businesses integrate the poor in their value chain, but definitions vary in how exactly inclusive businesses, benefits for the poor or ‘inclusiveness’ are defined – with possible implications for how support is designed and targeted.
    • While low-income populations offer sizeable commercial opportunities, businesses often cannot rely exclusively on very poor clients or suppliers for profitability. Alternatively, they may need to engage with people who are not the poorest.
    • While support to individual businesses has helped achieve direct impacts on poor people in their value chains, practitioners increasingly seek more systemic solutions, e.g. by promoting an enabling environment or helping to scale up and replicate successful models.
  • Summary: How to create an enabling environment for inclusive business, DCED, 2017: Two-page summary of the DCED’s extensive review of experience and evidence in this area.

BMZ’s introductory video below explains the concept of inclusive business in 3 minutes.

DCED publications

Background papers on inclusive business

Building inclusive business models: business and development perspectives

From inclusive business to inclusive markets

Different types of support to inclusive business


Partnerships (grants/ technical advice to inclusive businesses)

Value chain/ market development

Business Environment Reform

Social enterprise support

Impact Investing

Case studies on inclusive business models

Other useful links

  • The Inclusive Business Action Network (IBAN) – iBAN blue: iBAN is a global initiative supporting the scaling and replication of inclusive business models. iBAN blue is an online knowledge platform on inclusive business. iBAN weave is a focused Capacity Development Programme for selected companies and policymakers in developing and emerging countries.

Photo credits

Photo credit: Saira Habib/ MDF Pakistan