Inclusive business, responsible business, corporate engagement, harnessing core competencies … call it what we will, there is a great deal to discuss beyond our terminology. Through this new ODI DFID BAA Meeting Series we need to celebrate the emerging diversity of business models that combine high commercial and development value, and look hard at issues around implementation and impact.
Even before the downturn hit so hard, the agenda was changing, moving from the ‘why’ to the ‘how’ of inclusive business. An ODI blog today highlights four issues that need to be explored in our dialogue:
• Managing internal change when adapting core business models to boost development impact
• Sharing lessons between sectors to learn from the implementation models and good practice of each other.
• Assessing development impacts - beyond assertions of good impact, how do different options generate different impacts and how can they be measured?
• Assessing the business case. The business return needs to be clear, but differs by circumstance and sector. In a downturn more than ever, the business benefits need to be not only asserted but clearly demonstrable. This needs work.
The downturn will shape the debate. For developing countries, it constrains their economic options and makes it all the more important to find ways to best harness the power of business. From a business perspective, we should not assume that the downturn makes inclusive business less important. As a new ODI Opinion argues today, the long term business benefits just got bigger. More than ever before, developing economies need – and will notice – businesses that keep their commitments and innovate in helping suppliers, workers, consumers and governments adapt to the downturn. So businesses that can look beyond survival and invest in this innovation can differentiate themselves further from the competition, reaping benefits in terms of government and consumer recognition, and worker and supplier loyalty in future.
Business benefits, development impact, practicalities of implementation and internal change management – let’s hear the views from different sectors and different perspectives, to help us all learn and shape the nature of innovation in 2009.