APEC intensifies awareness about inclusive business models

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THE Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) heightens promotion of inclusive business (IB) models in the region by encouraging pro-poor economic activities among its 21-member economies.

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It was pointed out during the High-Level Dialogue on IB recently that adopting IB models would definitely help the region achieve inclusive growth.

During the dialogue, it was explained the inclusive business refers to core business models of commercially viable companies that provide solutions to the problems of poor and low-income communities.

Furthermore, it differentiates IB to corporate social responsibility (CSR) where poor communities are treated as beneficiaries. In IB, it considers the low-income group as economic agents because companies providing these solutions still earn income.

An example of a local IB model where a poor community is part of the supply chain is Kennemer Foods’ Cacao Growership Program. In this program, small farmers supply cacao beans to the company, helping them increase their annual income by sevenfold.

Another IB model is Manila Water’s Tubig para sa Barangay (Water for the Community) program in which low-income earners serve as customers for the company. In this model, the company helped 1.6 million low-income communities in Manila gain access to potable water at a lower cost, as it cuts the price of water from P150 per cubic meter to P7 per cubic meter.

“In the context of APEC, this (inclusive business) is very consistent to our theme, ‘Building Inclusive Economy, Building a Better World’,” Trade Undersecretary Adrian Cristobal Jr. said.

Cristobal mentioned that the Philippines, in its hosting this year, has introduced the concept of IB models in various APEC meetings.

He cited the Boracay Action Agenda, which pushes for the globalization of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs); the Cebu Action Plan, which calls for more inclusive financing; and the Iloilo Initiative that aims to provide conventional interventions for capacity building of MSMEs, as initiatives that will support the use of IB models in the APEC.

Prior to the HLD on IB, the APEC conducted the Public-Private Dialogue on IB in August and an IB session during the APEC Women and the Economy Fora in September.

“We have already convinced Peru to continue this during their hosting next year,” added Cristobal.

Adopting IB models to promote inclusive growth is critical in Asia Pacific as the region is home to more than 700 million people living below the $1.25 per day poverty line.           Lea Manto-Beltran, Supplement Editor

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