It has been an amazing journey working with iBAN over the last seven and a half years. When I assumed the role of Executive Director in August 2015, iBAN had just been launched and was tasked with raising awareness, providing information on inclusive business and supporting companies in a not yet defined way in three continents, all sectors, supporting the whole ecosystem. Beside a small team of four highly motivated colleagues, we were lucky that we had partners like the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB) on board who were already active in this field and shared their experiences with us from the beginning.
Since then, we have participated in a range of activities together, including working on the Policy dialogue on alleviating poverty through Inclusive Business in Berlin during the German G20 Presidency and collaborating on various studies on aspects of IB in different countries. The result of the latest collaboration is the IB Features, which we developed together with IFC, ADB and UNDP, and many other stakeholders from the IB ecosystem. In Southeast Asia we collaborated with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in supporting ASEAN with organising annual ASEAN IB Summits and the development of IB strategies. This October, the fifth ASEAN IB Summit took place in Cambodia. In 2023 the sixth ASEAN IB Summit will take place in Indonesia. This indicates that the IB Summit is already established in ASEAN and will continue even when iBAN is not around anymore. This is for me the best proof that real ownership has been created. The beauty of the ASEAN IB Summit is also that this is not a talk shop but rather an inspiring exchange among peers about the progress that has been made in the individual 10 member states of ASEAN in the field of Inclusive Business.
These are all examples that show our path from collaboration to co-creation, which reflects the philosophy iBAN has always followed. We have always tried to identify partners with whom we can collaborate in order to co-create. This applies as well to the inclusivebusiness.net platform. Together with partners from the whole ecosystem, and especially with our knowledge partners, we were able to create the world’s largest online knowledge platform on IB.
iBAN was blessed with so many partners who collaborated with us over time, with a single goal in mind that united us. We reached more than 1,000 companies with trainings and capacity building measures and supported 12 governments to improve the framework conditions for Inclusive Business. We had the pleasure of having inspiring and high calibre experts in their respective fields as members of the CLUED-iN editorial committee who dedicated their time freely to strengthen the flow of information within the IB ecosystem and helped us tell the inspiring stories of entrepreneurs. Therefore a big thank you goes out to Caroline Ashley, who is the “mother” of the IB platform as she managed the Practitioners Hub which later became the inclusivebusiness.net platform; to Alexis Bonnell, former Chief Innovation Officer at USAID and now with Google; to Ndidi Nwuneli, an extraordinary woman who never stops advocating for better nutrition and improved agricultural systems in Africa; Stuart Hart, one of the founding fathers of the ‘base of the pyramid’ economic theory; and the brilliant Royston Braganza from Grameen Capital India who is such an inspiration to many people. These are all extraordinary personalities who lent us regularly and pro-bono their minds and time over the years. THANK YOU!
In this current and final issue of CLUED-iN, thought leaders from the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN), Business Fights Poverty, African Food Changemakers and UNESCAP are featured, among others. Personally, I was always convinced that collaboration is not only the key to success, but also achieves more sustainable impact over the long term. The iBAN team has continuously focused on identifying partners with whom we could collaborate, in the sense of working together towards a common goal and at the same time enhancing each other’s strengths. The best collaboration was always when all partners involved were open to listening and learning from each other. In this way we not only achieved our common goal, but also learned from and inspired each other.
The advantages and benefits of inclusive businesses are becoming more and more evident. Companies and governments are increasingly recognizing that inclusive businesses not only reduce inequality and poverty, but also address issues like climate change and women’s economic empowerment. We at iBAN are proud to have contributed to raising awareness of inclusive business globally and ultimately improving the lives of the people living at the base of the economic pyramid.
As I said at the beginning, it was an amazing journey that is now coming to an end for us. I am confident that every end is also the beginning of something new. Therefore, I wish to impart positive energy to those who continue to promote inclusive business so that IB will become mainstream and more people from the base of the economic pyramid can improve their livelihoods.
All the best,
on behalf of the whole iBAN team.