Institute for Business in the Global Context

Where the World of Business Meets the World

Tag: Inclusion Inc

“The Inclusive Innovators” – Business & the SDGs

by Bhaskar Chakravorti

Read “The Inclusive Innovators: 10 Questions | 20 Business Leaders | 17 Sustainable Development Goals”

Inclusive business — the pursuit of opportunities in traditionally unattractive or currently unprofitable market segments – is, increasingly, a strategic imperative for companies. Foregoing such segments could mean opening the door to disruption and closing it to options for future growth; this is an especially crucial concern that relates to developing economies, which represent the world’s faster-growth markets over the long-term. The idea of inclusion encompasses being inclusive of future generations and, by extension, underscores the need for responsible stewardship of the environment, natural resources and supply chains. In other words, sustainability is integral to inclusive business.

Inclusive InnovatorsIn light of many of the dramatic political developments of 2016, such as the Brexit vote and the U.S. presidential elections, we can expect that governments of advanced economies will scale back their investments in international cooperation and global sustainable development, in favor of focusing on job creation at home. This will heighten the expectations from other sectors – the private sector, in particular – to step in and help fill the void. Pursuing business-as-usual objectives in parallel with inclusive business will require new models of innovation and partnership with other sectors. When successful, such “inclusive innovators” can pave the way for global growth, development and inclusive prosperity.

In January of 2016, the United Nations initiated a new global agenda leading up to 2030 through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) launched in the fall of 2015. Unlike their predecessors, the Millennium Development Goals, the SDGs consider the private sector as an essential participant in the process. The initiation of these new goals presents businesses and other sectors with a unique opportunity to expand the cadre of inclusive innovators who can accelerate progress on sustainable development worldwide.

This report is the outcome of a year-long in‐depth research effort involving over 20 global companies spanning a broad range of industries, conducted by The Fletcher School at Tufts University. It is part of Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context research and conference initiative on inclusive growth.

The report is the third in a series. The first report, “Growth for Good or Good for Growth,” analyzes the drivers and barriers affecting the practice of inclusive business activities within a wide range of businesses; the second report, “Inclusion Inc.” shared perspectives on operationalizing these activities and outcomes of live problem-solving in a major conference held at The Fletcher School. “The Inclusive Innovators”, the third report of the series, applies the strategies, lessons, and insights from 20 well known global companies to identify ways in which businesses can leverage the SDGs to join sustainable business with sustainable development, as well as address several of the challenges that would need to be overcome.

We hope you will read critically, ask your own questions, challenge what needs to be challenged, and continue the discussion. Most significantly, we expect that this process shall have a positive impact on the actions that businesses and their partners take to improve the state of an increasingly fragile and divided world.

Read “The Inclusive Innovators: 10 Questions | 20 Business Leaders | 17 Sustainable Development Goals”

Why SDG17 is an essential sustainable development goal

Of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the 17th is the odd one out. As “Partnerships for the Goals”, it is the goal that helps you get to the other 16. For most businesses committed to sustainable development, however, this 17th goal may be the most essential – and challenging – to accomplish.

Read the full piece from Bhaskar Chakravorti in The Guardian

 Tackling the SDGs: are business targets clear, measurable and down-to-earth?

I was struck by the rather unprecedented linking of arms recently at Cannes by CEOs of the advertising industry’s “big six” competitors; WPP, Dentsu, Havas, IPG, Omnicom and Publicis, announced they would commit to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to collectively build awareness and work with their clients in achieving them. Visionary commitments to sustainable development are inspiring and create halos for corporate brands. However, meaningful change will require companies to go beyond visionary intent or uplifting hashtags. Companies need to focus, declare specific targets and invest resources, people and time in a few, carefully chosen areas. Moreover, these priorities should be set at the very top of the organisation.

Read the full op-ed from Dean Chakravorti in The Guardian

As the global economy slows, how can sustainable development remain a priority?

The summer is heating up with reminders that the first anniversary of the launch of the 2030 Agenda is not far – and when it comes to implementing sustainable development worldwide, time passes rather quickly. The high level political forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development is convening in New York, the first since the adoption of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It comes hot on the heels of businesses being reminded by Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, at the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit in New York on June 22, who told those assembled that: “All businesses, everywhere, can and should play a role in improving our world.” He also added: “That starts with integrity – doing business right.”

Read the full op-ed from Dean Chakravorti in The Guardian

Investing in The Sustainable Development Goals In A Time of Anti-Globalization And Economic Slowdown

No doubt, the global economy is going through a period of several overlapping challenges. In some parts of the world, such as sub-Saharan Africa, these may seem like the worst of times – at least in the last 17 years. However, with far-sighted leadership and some imagination, the worst of times may well turn out to be the best of times.

Read the full op-ed from Dean Chakravorti in Forbes

Sustainable Business and Sustainable Development: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Given that 2030 is not that far, when one considers the magnitude of the [UN Sustainable Development] goals, it is worthwhile asking, which of the many stakeholders can maintain the momentum? Whose incentives are most closely aligned with achieving the goals and who has the resources to execute at scale across countries?

The answer is unavoidable: global business, as a stakeholder group, is best positioned to take the lead.

Read the full op-ed from Dean Chakravorti at The Guardian

How Mark Zuckerberg Can Resolve The Inclusive Innovator’s Dilemma

More generally, innovation in doing well while doing good is a growing trend among businesses seeking new markets in the developing world. Our research and conference initiative on this issue, conducted in collaboration with the Citi Foundation, confirms a growing preference for pursuing such dual objectives over pure philanthropy. For example, when we spoke with Sunny Verghese, founder and CEO of Olam, the agri-business company, he mentioned how pure corporate charity was not popular with shareholders. “But when you tell your shareholders that you are engaging in a variety of developmental initiatives which have some reciprocal value for the company, there are no questions asked,” he says.

Read the full op-ed from Dean Chakravorti in Forbes

10 Questions: Is Growth for Good also Good for Growth?

Growth - CroppedCompanies often view the social challenges that surround business opportunities – poverty, poor sanitation, loose governance structures – through the lens of corporate social responsibility (CSR) or philanthropy. But today, as economic growth in emerging markets has begun to outpace the growth of supporting institutions and infrastructure, many of these “contextual gaps” have begun to pose real threats to long-term business success. To reframe how business is done in these contexts, companies must consider how sustainable and inclusive business activities are becoming what’s good for business.

Learn more about our research on this topic:

As part of our “10 Questions” Series, we delve into hard questions of international business not easily answered by a single book, class, discipline, or school of thought. They herald a future where the world and the world of business are ever more interconnected, where decisions can’t be made in a bubble, where real expertise demands deep ‘contextual intelligence.’ This series reflects that contextual intelligence we cultivate in our students in the MIB program.

Alumni of IBGC Global Research Fellowship Published in MIT Press Innovations

Building on research conducted as part of the IBGC Global Research Fellowship, Fletcher alumni Michael Mori (MALD ’15) and Trevor Zimmer (MALD ’15) published a piece in the MI Press Journal, Innovations. Their research, undertaken in the Summer of 2014, examined the gaps in mobile banking among the poor in Indonesia. Both Michael and Trevor currently work for Dalberg Design Impact Group at Dalberg Global Development Advisors.


Indonesia is the largest consumer market in Southeast Asia and a member of the G20, yet it has one of the largest underbanked populations in the world. As of 2014, only 36 percent of Indonesia’s 243 million people were banked, leaving the majority financially excluded, exposed to risk, and left to manage their finances with mostly inefficient, informal services (World Bank 2014).

Check out their full article in Innovations: “Mobilizing Banking for Indonesia’s Poor”

The Inclusive Growth Initiative (Inclusion, Inc.) of IBGC offers the opportunity for a select number of exceptional Fletcher students to conduct original research and analysis around the world as a part of the IBGC Global Research Fellowship. The program was created in 2013 and has sent student teams into the field for immersive studies in emerging and frontier markets such as Myanmar, Turkey, Kenya, and Indonesia.