Report of the 2nd IB in Asia Forum

This report contains the highlights of the Inclusive Business in Asia Forum, convened by the Asian Development Bank with its partners, in February 2016 in Manila. The event marked a coming together of pioneers in inclusive business, unusual in its mixed composition:  commercial bankers and impact investors, development finance institutions, corporates and conglomerates, family businesses, social enterprise, business association, UN and donor organizations.  Over four hundred participants discussed their insight, experiences and ambitions in inclusive business. DOWNLOAD THE REPORT      

The report expands on the following key themes that were discussed at the Forum and provides summaries to all the sessions from the 4 day event:

  • The potential of inclusive business is huge, but so far is under-exploited in the region.   Inclusive business can address problems of the poor at scale, in a sustainable commercially viable way.  But this approach is not yet mainstreamed – and needs to be.
  • Inclusive business is less developed in South East Asia than the rest of Asia for multiple reasons. The policy framework is improving in all countries, but governments and industry associations can do more to catalyze new business models and create a conducive environment.  IB certification was discussed as a way forward.
  • Scaling inclusive business will require all actors to ‘up their game’. Aside from businesses and governments, the discussions drilled into the key roles that development banks, commercial banks, investors, advocacy facilitators (like business associations) can play.
  • The profitability of inclusive business is now being demonstrated in some portfolios.  Impact at scale is emerging.  However, perceived riskiness of inclusive business deals remains a huge issue.  It is perceived as more risky than conventional investment, but in fact the risk is different – not necessarily higher – and there are a host of risk mitigating strategies already being deployed.  There is a need for more information and training for traditional investors.
  • Inclusive business is emerging across sectors in Asia.  So far it is most common in agribusiness.  It is growing fast in finance.   IB innovations are not confined to any sector, and indeed they often involve business partnerships that straddle sectors.
  • Participants combined enthusiasm with realism.  Inclusive business is hard because it is pioneering.  There is no blueprint and iteration is demanded.   Leaders in the field started slowly and evolved time and again.  There is much further to go but the potential is rewarding.

For a more detailed summary of the key takeaways from the Forum, visit http://bit.ly/2ndIBAsiaForum2016Summary

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