Scaling up inclusive business. Solutions to overcome internal barriers

Publication by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

Sustainability challenges including poverty, social unrest, climate change and environmental degradation have become ever more urgent. Business has the technology, innovation capacity, resources, and skills to play a key role in providing the radical solutions the world desperately needs.

The objective of this brief is to kick off greater dialogue on the internal barriers companies face along the pathway to scale in inclusive business and how to overcome them. Building on the hands-on experience of businesses active in this space and the valuable insights of experts, the following pages identify some of the most common internal barriers and the solutions that leading companies are using to tackle them. We gained new insights by looking at the work of thirteen companies: CEMEX, Grundfos, Grupo Corona, ITC Ltd., Lafarge, Masisa, Nestlé, Novartis, Novozymes, SABMiller, Schneider Electric, The Coca-Cola Company, and Vodafone. We also interviewed two leading academics doing research in this area, Cornell University’s Erik Simanis (United States) and Universidad de los Andes’ Ezequiel Reficco (Colombia).

Of course, many companies find it a challenge just to get off the starting block and get to break even. But here at the WBCSD we believe that the time is right, because most large companies won’t even step up to the starting blocks unless there are prospects for scale. And fortunately, a number of companies are already succeeding at the base of the pyramid. While the sample size is small, there is much to learn from their experience.

You can download the full document here.