Using inclusive business to achieve the SDGs

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the blueprint to achieving a better and more sustainable future for all. They address global challenges related to poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice. The SDGs are the result of the biggest consultation in UN history, a process that involved 83 national surveys and engaged over 7 million people over three years.

Unlike their predecessor, the Millennium Development Goals, the SDGs explicitly call on businesses to apply their creativity and innovation to solve sustainable development challenges. At iBAN, we are convinced that companies with inclusive business models have a major role to play in advancing the private sector’s efforts to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs. We believe that adapting and integrating inclusive business models will help business take a major leap towards sustainable development.

Many businesses have already recognised the significance of the SDGs!

According to the aforementioned WBCSD study, 41 per cent of the respondents have taken measures to ensure that the SDGs are in some way integrated into their strategy. Worldwide, over 200 companies have responded to UNDP’s Business Call to Action (BCtA) by making commitments toward the SDGs to improve the lives and livelihoods of millions through commercially-viable business ventures that engage low-income people as consumers, producers, suppliers, distributors of goods and services and employees.

These are some examples:

Tolaro connects Benin’s cashew farmers to export markets.

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Saraya saves lives through hand hygiene in Uganda.

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Joma sources Fairtrade coffee and supports locals in Laos.

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Kennemer increases smallholder farmers’ yields and incomes.

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Kamworks provides solar solutions to rural communities in Cambodia.

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Why do entrepreneurs and company leaders care about the SDGs? Because there is a clear business case for aligning their business model with the SDGs!

coffee bean crops

3 reasons why companies should align their business models with the SDGs:

  1. Because the SDGs reflect stakeholder expectations and future policy direction, companies that align their priorities with the SDGs can strengthen engagement of customers, employees and other stakeholders. In a survey of 250 member companies of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), 49 per cent of respondents confirmed that they perceive reputational gains and enhanced license to operate as a very important benefit of the SDGs.
  2. The SDGs can even serve as a roadmap to identify future business opportunities and future revenue streams. As they aim to redirect global public and private investment flows towards solving global challenges, companies that address the Global Goals will have a competitive advantage. In 2018, GIIN’s Annual Impact Investor Survey identified 32 impact investors that tracked their investment performance in line with the SDGs.
  3. Finally, companies investing in the achievement of the SDGs support an enabling environment for business success, including the existence of rules-based markets, transparent financial systems, and non-corrupt and well-governed institutions.

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