Inclusive Business in Africa: Priorities, Strategies and Challenges
Inclusive business strategies exemplify how the private sector could contribute to inclusive and sustainable development. Little is known about inclusive businesses in Africa, specifically regarding the social issues private organisations prioritise, the strategies they use, and the challenges they encounter. This chapter presents exploratory results from a survey conducted on African and Dutch private organisations operating in six East African countries. We find that the level of emphasis given to inclusive business practices is generally high, although NGOs give greater weight to inclusiveness than businesses do. There are important differences across industries in adopting inclusiveness. We also find notable diversity across organisations in the extent to which inclusiveness is integrated with their core operations. The survey reveals that the most important inclusiveness strategies are providing affordable products for low-income customers and value chain development. Inclusiveness efforts target the economic empowerment of women, poor people, and small-scale entrepreneurs, followed by rural inhabitants and illiterate people. The focus is mostly on improving income and productivity by means of employment creation, access to finance, capacity building, and access to information and education. Organisations operating in Africa face a long list of internal and external challenges in becoming inclusive, the most important of which are shortages of skilled manpower and limited financial resources. We conclude the chapter by reflecting on potential policy interventions for addressing these challenges.