What is the Business Call to Action (BCtA)?

The Business Call to Action (BCtA) is a global membership platform that challenges and advocates for private sector companies to develop innovative business models that combine profitability with development impact in support of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. BCtA members are market leaders and innovators, committed to developing commercially viable business ventures that engage people living at the base of the economic pyramid (BoP) as consumers, producers, suppliers and distributors of goods and services. Across the globe, business leaders are promoting economic opportunity by providing the poor with the tools and resources they need to succeed.

Why was the BCtA launched?

BCtA was launched in 2008 to encourage businesses to address economic and social challenges for those people living at the base of the economic pyramid. By increasing the visibility of innovative, inclusive business models, providing tools to measure impact, facilitating thought leadership and promoting multi-stakeholder partnerships, BCtA helps to drive the private sector’s contribution to the economic growth and vitality of developing countries. BCtA promotes and advocates for companies that create jobs through supply chain initiatives and develop products and services to address the needs of people living at the BoP.

How is the BCtA funded?

BCtA is a unique multilateral alliance between key donor governments including the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs,  the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, UK Department for International Development, US Agency for International Development, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Finland, and the United Nations Development Programme— which hosts the secretariat — in collaboration with leading global institutions such as the United Nations Global Compact.

Who can join the BCtA?

Innovative national, regional, and multinational companies of all sizes committed to contributing to development solutions through their core business activities can become  members of BCtA. Member companies represent a wide range of sectors including energy, agriculture, health care, financial services, mobile communication and information technology, manufacturing, and others.

How do companies join the BCtA?

Companies are invited to join BCtA by submitting an application which highlights an innovative core business initiative that provides both commercial and social return while advancing progress on the SDGs. Companies with inclusive business initiatives in developing countries and emerging markets which add economic and social value, and have quantifiable business and development impact, are encouraged to join.

Companies submit an application to BCtA describing the intended initiative by providing information on the location and type of activity, its link to core business, outreach targets, scale and expected business and development impact. Applications are reviewed and approved by BCtA and its partner organizations to ensure that the company’s initiative meets the established criteria. Where appropriate, the Secretariat and partners may help a company to refine its submission prior to approval. Please see How to Join for more information about the BCtA membership process.

Is there a fee to join the BCtA?

No, there is no membership fee to join the BCtA.

Do companies receive assistance in developing an initiative?

Yes, limited technical support is provided by the BCtA Secretariat and/or BCtA’s partners to help identify and develop appropriate company initiatives. For additional support, the  BCtA Secretariat can refer companies to potential implementing partners and enterprise development experts to access opportunities for technical assistance, capacity building and funding.

Does BCtA provide financial support to member companies?

No, member companies are expected to mobilize their own financing for business initiatives. Where appropriate, BCtA can connect companies with donor organizations to support project implementation.

What are the membership benefits to joining the BCtA?

BCtA provides a high-visibility leadership platform for companies to demonstrate their commitment to development. Member companies, and those wishing to join BCtA, receive support for the development of their initiative as well as for impact measurement. BCtA connects members to a global community dedicated to improving the lives and livelihoods of those living at the bottom of the economic pyramid.

What are the membership requirements?

BCtA member companies are required to: 1) implement their approved BCtA initiatives and 2) report results toward achievement of their initiatives on an annual basis. It is important that results include the current measurable contributions to both development and commercial goals. Members have opportunities to participate in many other BCtA activities throughout a given year.

How do members report results?

The BCtA Results Reporting Tool aims to provide an easy-to-use method for capturing the development and commercial results of BCtA initiatives. Based on the BCtA members’ application, the tool is designed to complement and be easily integrated into existing reporting/measurement processes used by companies.

What is BCtA Impact Measurement Service (BIMS)?

BCtA Impact Measurement Service (BIMS) helps member companies conduct ongoing measurement of the social impact of their inclusive business along with the financial and operational performance. BIMS provides the technical expertise and technology tools to design and implement survey-based data collection from the field through employees, customers and other stakeholders. With BIMS, members can align their business to the SDGs. Furthermore, by gaining access to critical market information, BCtA members can improve product/service development, assess new business opportunities, enhance the marketing of their product or service and strengthen communications on the social contribution to investors, local authorities and other stakeholders. Please see Why Join? for more information about the BIMS program.

What are the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

The Sustainable Development Goals, otherwise known as the Global Goals, build on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight anti-poverty targets that the world committed to achieving by 2015. The MDGs, adopted in 2000, aimed at an array of issues that included slashing poverty, hunger, disease, gender inequality, and access to water and sanitation. Enormous progress has been made on the MDGs, showing the value of a unifying agenda underpinned by goals and targets. Despite this success, the indignity of poverty has not been ended for all.

The new SDGs, and the broader sustainability agenda, go much further than the MDGs, addressing the root causes of poverty and the universal need for development that works for all people.

How can business contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (MDGs)?

Private sector-led economic growth and wealth creation will be essential for the achievement of the SDGs. Business, as an engine of growth and development, has the potential to improve the lives of people in low-income communities by increasing investment, creating jobs, building skills, and developing goods, technologies and innovations that benefit those at the base of the economic pyramid.

How does Inclusive Business differ from Corporate Social Responsibility?

Inclusive business models are sustainable business solutions that expand access to goods, services, and livelihood opportunities for low-income people. By creating commercially viable business models that leverage innovation (technological or otherwise) to address the needs of low-income consumers and build linkages with low-income producers, companies have the potential to impact millions of poor people.

How do companies develop Inclusive Business models?

To learn more about developing Inclusive Business models, please refer to Selected Resources.


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