Inclusive Business Models

Individual interviews with business, NGO, research and donor actors point to the need to synthesise global work on inclusive business models so far. There is also the common desire to understand essential success factors of inclusive business models and the contexts within which they are likely to scale both their impact and their outreach.

The Seas of Change initiative is therefore starting up an inclusive business model learning path. This body of work will collect, compare, analyse and synthesize information. This learning path will particularly focus on business models that interface directly or indirectly with smallholder supply base.


  1. Further fine-tune what inclusive business is and formulate in a business-savvy manner
  2. Identify the key factors that enable business models to perform well
  3. Identify possible strategies for companies to support smallholder empowerment based on their business model
  4. Identify how inclusive business models are currently fostered and if this can be done more effectively, if at all, through targetted non-market support


  1. Guidelines including methods and tools to assess existing business models in terms of inclusiveness, and to support development of new business models
  2. Reports to shape the international agenda on inclusive business
  3. Communication and support processes to help business hubs, mentor initiatives, donors etc. apply findings in their context

Seas of Change has carried out a review of the main trends, strengths and challenges of selected agri-food commodities chains and highlighted efforts made so far to set up inclusive business models and to scale them up. Starting from an understanding of the rationale and incentive behind investing in inclusive markets, for each commodity analysed, we tried to answer the following questions:

  • Which are the trend and challenges of the sector/who are the players?
  • Which are the incentives for inclusiveness?
  • Which success factors made your business model inclusive?
  • Which is the scale of inclusiveness achieved so far?
  • Which are the goals?
  • Which are the mechanisms for scaling up?

The present review summarises the findings of the stand alone commodities factsheets. This analysis of the drivers, results, and key elements these inclusive business models share allows to identify cross- cutting mechanisms which can be used to scale up inclusive business practices: Raising the Bar

In this 10 minute video, you will be introduced to some of the key concepts and dynamics related to inclusive business in the agro-food sector.

At the Seas of Change workshop in 2014, an interesting infographic about inclusive business models was made: