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Barriers and the Opportunities at the Base of the Pyramid - The Role of the Private Sector in Inclusive Development

Aug 18, 2014

As part of its mandate to guide and define the role of the private sector in poverty reduction and inclusive development, the UNDP Istanbul International Center for Private Sector in Development (IICPSD) produced the “Barriers and Opportunities at the Base of the Pyramid” foundational report. Developed by an interdisciplinary team of 18 leading poverty experts, the report leverages an ecological approach to understanding barriers to poverty reduction. The report presents poverty as a complex web of accumulating and interacting disadvantages facing people living in poverty, which in turn, sustain and perpetuate a life of socioeconomic exclusion. The barriers are clustered into five broad categories: Early Developmental Barriers, Health Barriers, Skill Barriers, Social Barriers, and Decision-making Barriers.


Using this framework, the IICPSD surveyed a diverse group of practitioners to understand what are some of the opportunities private sector actors can undertake to help tackle these barriers. The report clusters private sector actions into four broad approaches, each within its own commercial logic: Corporate Social Responsibility, Social Enterprise, Inclusive Business, and Mainstream Business. Through survey of policy makers and experts, the report also discusses the role of critical enablers that can facilitate a great role for the private sector in poverty reduction and inclusive development. The report looks into how the public sector, international organizations and development agencies, academia, NGOs, Innovative inclusive financing and impact investing, and technology, can catalyze further private sector action in poverty reduction. The report ends with a note that if poverty means a life of socioeconomic exclusion for people at the base of the pyramid, the solution is to preclude poverty through social inclusion—and the private sector can play a much more substantial and strategic role towards this end.