Today’s economy is in a state of disequilibrium due to forces from globalization and automation to inequality and climate change.These forces have benefited some in the short-term, but many people are still unable to fully participate in the economy. Global value chains made up of suppliers, consumers, and employees account for approximately 60% of economic activity and wield considerable influence over the ability of firms and individuals to profit from the system. However, many global businesses do not incorporate economically disadvantaged people, excluding them from the upward movement of the economy and leaving the potential of a large section of the population untapped by business ventures. In an inclusive economy, the largest corporations partner with enterprises of all sizes to create shared value for the betterment of society.
The inclusive economy ecosystem is comprised of actors that promote biodiversity and ecosystem services, sustainable production and consumption, inclusive economic growth, and human dignity. The inclusive economy ecosystem is propelled by the interactions among entities playing one or more of three roles: 1) inclusive business; i.e. large corporations that engage suppliers, buyers, and/or employees in inclusive practices; 2) social enterprise; many of them small and mid-sized enterprises or entrepreneurs; and 3) enabler, which may be governmental, for-profit, or non-profit enterprises that catalyze the inclusive process.
Inclusive business incorporates intentional social and environmental practices to increase competitiveness and foster societal well-being.Inclusive business practices can be related to employees, suppliers, distributors, or consumers. By applying socially responsible practices in core operations and value chains, inclusive businesses use their influence to accomplish a multiplier effect when it comes to their societal impact.
Social enterprise involves small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) that create innovative new processes, products, or services that address and improve the quality of human life at the micro or macro level. Social entrepreneurs respond to market failures with transformative innovations aimed at solving social problems while maintaining financial sustainability.
The enabler serves as a critical yet invisible actor in the inclusive economy, which is a highly complex and dynamic system that involves more than inclusive businesses and social enterprises. People, culture, and technology act as the institutional, market, and socio-economic ‘glue’ that binds, catalyzes, and accelerates interactions and innovation. Enablers facilitate collaborations and connections; transfer knowledge; generate and share new knowledge; devise various forms and stages of financing; implement supportive policies; and much more.