Inclusive Business eLab (May 26 to June 30, 2014)

The Inclusive Business eLab is an executive online course that aims to support company managers working on building sustainable business ventures targeting the base of the economic pyramid (BoP) in emerging markets.

Published: 29 Apr 2014
Author: Filippo Veglio
Type: Insight

The eLab is a collaboration between the European BoP Learning Labs, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and Business Fights Poverty.

The program targets company representatives at the technical or middle management level, and is ideally suited for those who have little experience with inclusive business but are tasked to create solutions or are interested in working in the area. It offers the following benefits:

  • Practical advice on developing inclusive business based cutting-edge research
  • Overview of state-of-the-art literature and experts
  • Real-life insights from leading companies
  • Peer-to-peer networking
  • Feedback on own project

Program contents

The dynamic, web-based course is built around six sessions delivered once weekly. The program is led by an international faculty of inclusive business practitioners and guest company experts.

The six major themes of the course are:

  1. Inclusive Business Innovation: Inclusive businesses require targeted approaches because the market environment of slums and villages is very different from mainstream markets. To develop successful solutions, companies are well advised to include stakeholders in the innovation process. The module provides an introduction to inclusive business and the concept of open innovation.
  2. Market understanding and marketing: The basic ingredient to a successful business case is a solid understanding of one’s target group. The module explains how to gather relevant data and what to take into account when addressing the target group.
  3. Last mile distribution: Distribution networks at the BoP are usually very weak and very different from mainstream markets. The module explains how to effectively and efficiently reach out to the target group, including for payments and after-sales service.
  4. Financing: Inclusive businesses require access to adequate sources of finance to support early stages of opportunity identification through later phases of scaling up market solutions.  In this block, we provide an overview of financial mechanisms to support inclusive business, including donors and impact investors.
  5. Partnering: Since markets need to be created rather than penetrated, implementation of inclusive business almost always requires collaboration with non-traditional partners, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), donors, public agencies, foundations and impact investors. The module introduces these different actors and provides tips for effective cross-sector partnering.
  6. Results measurement: Inclusive businesses combine social and commercial returns. In order to be accountable to stakeholders and to manage and improve results over time, measurement is key. The module introduces different approaches to results measurement and explains the basic terminology and steps.

Program delivery

Each module consists of an online session, preparatory reading and homework. Coaching is also available to participants as part of the full package.

  • Online session, Mondays from 4-5pm CET: A representative from the WBCSD or a European BoP Learning Lab will be responsible for sharing their expertise in the six content modules. In addition, company representatives will share their experience in building inclusive businesses.
  • Preparatory reading: Reading materials and class contents will be summarized in an interactive course book.
  • Homework: Participants have the opportunity to apply the contents of the course to their own company and project.
  • Coaching (full package only): Participants will have one-on-one sessions with their personal coach to discuss ideas and receive direct feedback and input on their projects or models.

Participants will also have a chance to exchange ideas and questions with each other, and will receive a certificate upon completion of the course.

As this course is offered online, participants from all regions are highly encouraged to attend in order to facilitate a diverse and rich exchange of ideas. English is the language of instruction.


Participants can elect one of two packages based on their budget and needs:

Base package: EUR 795 (excluding VAT)

  • 6 live online sessions
  • 1 hour Inclusive Business Readiness Assessment
  • All learning materials

Full package: EUR 1,995 (excluding VAT)

  • 6 live online sessions
  • 6 hours of one-on-one coaching session including assessment
  • All learning materials 

Deadline for registration is May 14, 2014

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