Panelist and participants at the 16th Global Development Network annual conference discussed how businesses must be more inclusive in catering to more than 40 per cent population of the world that lives below $2 a day.
As of now, the participation of this 2.7 billion people in the market is limited. However this segment, at the bottom of the pyramid (BOP), harbours a potential for innovation and entrepreneurial activity; and of course consumption and production.
Panelists pointed out that the challenge of 'Inclusive Business Models' is dual: to include the poor both on the demand side and on the supply side.
Besides, such good practices potentially create co-benefits for both business and BOP. To integrate the BOP within the value chain is not a target but a key to success.
During the day, case studies of 'inclusive business' in agriculture and nutrition were debated. On the demand side, Yakult Danone's example stood out in Indonesia where the probiotic drink is effective in addressing infectious disease and malnutrition, especially for children, selling three million bottles a day.
On the supply side, the 'one village, one product' (OVOP) movement in Malawi allows to create and commercialise competitive products based on local resources, self-reliance, creativity, and strengthen capacity development of local people.
Participants and panelists also discussed how this generation faces the great challenge to become the first zero-hunger generation, as per the G20's targets.
In order to achieve it, the current Green Revolution, opposed to the former one, seeks to promote nutrition based upon diversified crops rather than increase in rice or wheat production. It seeks to make food more accessible rather than boost output; and to encourage global trade rather than foster self-sufficiency.
It was advocated that in order to mitigate the impact of next food crisis, it is essential to create safety nets for countries to successfully hedge operations, thereby curtailing the need for emergency assistance. Therefore, better information and training programmes on financial instruments are critical.
These actions are especially relevant since the adverse effects of local markets' volatility are especially damaging for the poor, whose income is largely spent on food.