Unleashing Inclusive Business Towards the SDGs

By Phat Nguyen, Inclusive Business Accelerator

Unleashing Inclusive Business Towards the SDGs

The Business Call to Action (BCtA) – a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) hosted global platform showcasing private sector contribution to the SDGs through inclusive business – in collaboration with Inclusive Business Accelerator (IBA), SNV Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), The Partnering Initiative (TPI) and Business Fights Poverty hosted an invitation- only event to discuss how inclusive business can be leveraged for the SDGs in Vietnam.

The aim of the event held on the 11th of May 2016 was to discuss how inclusive business can be leveraged to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals in Vietnam. Other stakeholders in the meeting included Vietnam Chamber of Commerce (VCCI), Vietnam Business Council for Sustainable Development (VBCSD), the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), UNDP Vietnam, Netherlands Embassy in Vietnam, USAID Vietnam, Viettel, Traphaco, Ecofarm, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and UNIDO Vietnam. The meeting brought together participants from companies, governments, donors, development organizations and business associations. It was over-expected participation of 110 attendants.

Vietnam has achieved many amazing successes in development goals, while the government showed strong commitment to create favorable conditions for Vietnamese enterprises. However, governments have their own constraints; therefore, their roles to support inclusive business can be shared with the private sector. As discussed by the speakers, the role of the private sectors is vital in the realization of SDGs and inclusive business is an effective solution to the SDGs. Therefore, it is true that SDGs can be achieved if they become the business of everybody. If this is the case, every business will, in the end, become inclusive business.

This event presented a candid discussion from a diverse audience about challenges facing inclusive business in Vietnam such as the lack of relevant information, lots of overlapped rules, undercapitalized/inefficient use of capital, weak management capacity, and effective engagement with local authorities.

International organizations have been strong supporters of inclusive business. SNV, IBA, ADB, VBCSD and UNIDO have many best practices to share on sustainable and inclusive business and have promoted inclusive business in the country. Inclusive businesses such as Traphaco and Ecofarm received funding and technical support from Vietnam Business Challenge Fund (VBCF) managed by SNV, which enabled them to pilot their engagement with the BoP. On the other hand, development banks are interested in developing an accreditation system for inclusive business, promoting inclusive business through a fund and working with business associations to promote inclusive business.

During the event, companies and participants are very keen to look for cooperation with other participants. Whether it is a multi-sector partnership approach proposed by TPI or through public-private partnership arrangements recommended by UNDP or 4-party collaboration (Enterprise, Scientist, Farmer and local government) developed by case-study companies, trust and mutual respect is the foundation for partnerships.

From the event, we were able to see and feel the excitement for inclusive business, SDGs, and anything in between from the speakers and participants from diverse backgrounds and groups. They acknowledged the validity of inclusive business in achieving the SDGs and had a good grasp of what is taking place. Nevertheless, it seems that there is so much to be done to reach inclusive business’ full potential. Each business sector actually deserves a respective workshop so that sector-specific topics can be discussed in details. Although this is a half-day event, the participants went home with additional business contacts, not all but some questions answered, and more importantly, stronger desire to take actions to scale up their inclusive business.

The event focused on inclusive business and the SDGs is an example of a means of communications to a wide audience of stakeholders including multi-sector private sector companies and various supporters of the private sector. Towards this end and coming out of this event, the Inclusive Business Accelerator Vietnam is planning a mapping process with the private sector on their needs to develop inclusive business models towards achieving the SDGs.

The aim of the event was not to find solutions to the problems discussed but rather sow the seed for a coalition of willing businesses that are inclusive that can contribute to achieving the SDGs in Vietnam. What we have now is a larger inclusive business community willing to play its part, in taking the initial steps towards achieving the 2030 Agenda.

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