South Asia

IB Policies Around the World


Bangladesh has a growing inclusive business ecosystem with multiple companies engaging the Base of the Pyramid in their business models. Micro-finance is a thriving sector in the country, having been pioneered by the Grameen Bank. There is a strong social enterprise movement with the Grameen Bank group actively promoting social enterprise investments. However, while there are many social enterprises active in Bangladesh, there are only very few operating inclusive businesses.


Bhutan has some social enterprises but there is limited inclusive business activity. The first inclusive business investment has been made jointly by the ADB and IFC in a hazelnut export company. No specific IB support policy exists yet.


India has a pioneering inclusive business ecosystem with numerous innovative inclusive business models and multiple impact investors. There are many innovative and commercially viable inclusive business companies successfully working in the country. India also has more than twenty IB related social impact funds. Moreover, the Hindi national health insurance scheme is one of the largest health insurance schemes in the world and aims to provide access to healthcare to all 300 million poor people living below the poverty line. Moreover, the Ministry of Finance has set up the National Skills Development Corporation (NSDC) to tackle the lack of skills of young people. A thriving culture of innovative and socially oriented entrepreneurs, are actively encouraged by government incentives through subsidized credit, mandatory CSR for large companies, and active sector promotion policies in housing, sanitation, and education. In addition there is an active and highly informed discussion on innovative IB solutions, supported by IB knowledge platforms, entrepreneurship training, and specialized consultants. This makes India the most dynamic market in Asia for IB investments.


Nepal has some social enterprises in operation but inclusive business remains a nascent concept. One inclusive business/social enterprise focused investment fund exists. There is no specific IB support policy by the government.


Pakistan has some inclusive business investments, however the understanding of the concept is compromised by CSR activities. There is good investment potential but there is a need to link IB investments with the Islamic finance discussion. The country has only two active impact investors, but their portfolio is very small. With help from ADB the governments of Sindh and Punjab are considering the establishment of an IB fund for investing Islamic Finance equity in IB. There is particular IB investment potential in agribusiness (to address the problem of the lack of well paid job opportunities for the youth), technical training, health (with strong gender impact), and energy (due to the massive energy supply crisis in the country).

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has a strong business culture oriented towards equity, fair treatment of employees, and giving back to society. However, companies are channelling their social activities mostly through CSR and some social enterprises. Inclusive business models are still rare. Private equity funds invest in inclusive businesses but not exclusively. Nevertheless Sri Lanka would be a good country to promote IB, given the strong orientation of the larger enterprises towards social good, and the government’s interest in encouraging private sector solutions for the poor. Moreover, the government of Sri Lanka is interested in serving the BoP and providing them services. Therefore, the National Insurance Trust Fund (NITF) has been established to ensure affordable different insurances and reinsurance schemes for uninsured citizens.