UNDP Resident Representative keynote address at Chief Executive Officers’ Breakfast Meeting for Strengthening Inclusive Business Ecosystems Regional Training Workshop

Apr 21, 2016


I thank you all for dedicating time from your busy schedules to join us this morning.

I take this opportunity to welcome you all to the ‘Pearl of Africa’, and the postcard of African Tourism – Uganda, and urge you to take off part of your time during your stay to enjoy the beautiful scenery and unmatched biodiversity that this country has to offer.

It is indeed a pleasure and a privilege to address such a diverse gathering of individuals with vast knowledge and expertise ready to share experiences on the challenges and opportunities of involving low income communities in business.

Ladies and Gentlemen: The timing of this meeting is opportune for our continent – Africa which hosts 7 of 10 fastest growing economies. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have set a new scene for the way in which economic actors tackle key systemic barriers such as inequality, unsustainable consumption and production patterns. We have a new platform to address inadequate infrastructure, the lack of decent jobs and to transform our societies. Achieving these goals will not be simple or cheap.

According to best case scenarios developing countries will need between $3.3 trillion and $4.5 trillion a year in state spending, investment and aid to meet these goals. This means a strategic blend of sources of finance - public and private; domestic and international, for us to succeed.

Investment in this case isn’t just about finances but also the promotion of new technologies, business models, institutional mechanisms, legislation, regulation and policies that can dramatically accelerate progress towards sustainable development. It is about local innovation with global reach, this will require new partnerships with all stakeholders – governments, the private sector, development partners, multilateral banks, research institutions, advocacy organizations and communities to achieve the world we want.

In his address at the United Nations Private Sector Forum, UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon noted that, “the SDGs are unprecedented in their ambition – but the fundamental ways that business can contribute remain unchanged; and calls for even stronger commitment to partnership, especially on our most pressing challenges.

The private sector has a central position in this partnership. Meaningful engagement with the private sector calls for openness and transparency-key ingredients in building accountability and trust, which are necessary for the functioning of partnerships. UNDP is committed to seeing that transparency is at the heart of its work, and to encouraging all actors in development to work to improve transparency. To this end, I am pleased to inform you that after an intense assessment, UNDP was rated as the most transparent aid organisation in the world and I reiterate our commitment to sharing our experience with partners.

I would also like to make reference to the 2015 Third International Conference on Financing for Development outcome document which calls on businesses to engage as full partners in the development process and to apply their creativity and innovation in solving sustainable development challenges by investing in critical areas such as poverty eradication, ending hunger as well as shifting to more sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Building inclusive businesses holds the key to accelerate the unlocking of Africa's potential. Inclusive Business as a feature of inclusive market development, represents a promising approach to bringing the benefits of economic growth directly to low-income people by including them within value chains. It encourages a new generation of entrepreneurs who can contribute actively to enhancing the quality of life and the efforts of government.

It is within this spirit that UNDP believes that we need to nurture and engage the private sector in Africa to actively contribute to inclusive growth especially through job creation, access to markets and income opportunities for the poor. This is key if we are to fulfil our shared SDG commitment to Leave no one behind.

Ladies & gentlemen, more often than not, operating in low-income markets presents numerous challenges for inclusive businesses including inadequate financial access, lack of market information, limited knowledge and skills, a weak regulatory system and a poor operational environment. A conducive environment with an inclusive business ecosystem that involves different stakeholders is needed for businesses to achieve sustainable, inclusive growth that has the capacity to scale up and empower.

It is my hope that this breakfast meeting is an opportunity for a frank exchange on solutions that can be repeated annually. I invite you to consider this gathering as a platform for Africa to sustain a meaningful engagement with the private sector. Together, let’s explore opportunities for partnership and development pathways for the sustainable eradication of poverty to significantly reduce inequalities and exclusion.

I wish you fruitful deliberations and look forward to seeing the new narrative that will emanate from your experiences.

I thank you for your kind attention.

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