The spirit of entrepreneurship that lies at the heart of innovation is changing. Encouraged by new technologies and growing market access, organizations increasingly view innovation for low-income consumers as key to long-term growth. Examples of inclusive innovations that target low-income communities have multiplied: Internet kiosks provide updates on weather and crop prices for farmers in remote villages; mobile technologies allow consumers without bank accounts to pay for goods with their phones; new business models help thousands of rural women to become effective sellers of consumer goods to new markets; and low-cost cars bring new levels of mobility and freedom to people around the world.
Yet despite the success with innovation among low-income consumers, many companies find this terrain to be quite challenging, particularly when there are obstacles, like institutional or infrastructure deficits that hamper these markets from operating effectively. So what can be done to foster the success of inclusive business initiatives?
In this groundbreaking report, we address this issue and offer a set of processes to help organizations bring inclusive innovations to scale—with the benefit of providing much-needed goods and services to low-income populations, while also generating profits and establishing new foundations for future growth. Led by the Accenture Institute for High Performance, a team of researchers from Accenture and leading academic institutions examined 18 inclusive business initiatives—including efforts from well-known global organizations—in Brazil, China, Ghana, India and Nigeria. The comparative focus of the report is unique and goes beyond a simple compilation of case studies. Drawing on their data, the authors present a path that can help boards, senior-level executives and innovation managers achieve the complex but worthy goal of social progress with positive business results. Success with inclusive business initiatives will not be simple for any of us pursuing or considering these opportunities. But I hope you will find this report to be an encouraging start.