One hears less about the base of the pyramid these days. Instead, "inclusive" remains the clear buzzword of choice for now. The recent UN Millennium Development Goals Summit generated a side workshop on Inclusive Business organized by a roll call of organizations. Now IFC is hosting its own event on Inclusive Business Solutions around the IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings this week. The term is pervasive.
As reported locally, the Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe just completed its strategy workshop with... guess what?—a call for “Inclusive Business” as a means of national healing and sustainable economic development. Nor is it limited to low income country contexts: see last Friday’s event on The Economic Impact of an Inclusive Business Community as reported by the Charlotte Observer, revealing persistent concerns over economic diversity amid the US economic downturn.
I take this as good news if it is translating into more options for poor consumers and producers. Encouragingly, it is not just multinationals talking this talk but a growing number of national and emerging market-based firms. The IFC Inclusive Business team is bringing together many impressive stories from IFC clients ranging from Colombia to Madagascar to India. If you want an immediate sense of what this means in practice, the discussions from the New York event are already up on the Business Fights Poverty site. I particularly recommend the video of a CEO panel discussion on how companies are “walking the walk.”