Feb. 25--The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Sunday it will provide a $3.6- million grant to support 20 private sector businesses in Asia, "targeting poor and low-income communities."
"Economic growth has been high in Asia but that hasn't trickled down to improve living standards of the poorest in most countries," said Armin Bauer, ADB Regional and Sustainable Development Department economist.
"Private companies are only now slowly recognizing that poor and low-income groups are a huge market for goods and services, and a good source of employees and talent," he added.
The ADB said that the companies granted the fund will develop business models that would focus on "inclusive businesses," where poor living on less than $3 a day would be able to benefit. An estimated 60 percent of Asia's population live in slum areas.
According to the ADB, the $3.6-million grant is co-funded by the government of Sweden, international finance firm Credit Suisse, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, as well as French, German and inter-American development banks.
"Inclusive business is a new development area for many donors. We want to be instrumental in helping ADB move into this important field," said Maja Forslind, Private Sector program manager for Asia at the Embassy of Sweden in Bangkok.
Other than their financial contribution, Credit Suisse will also deploy staff as a part of its Global Citizens Program for the next three years up to 2017 to provide specialization in business expertise for low- income communities.
"In addition to our philanthropic giving and allowing our clients to get involved via impact investing products, we believe that there is also a great opportunity to harness our core business competencies by providing the expertise of our staff to tackle development challenges and build inclusive business models," said Manuel Rybach, global head of Corporate Citizenship and Foundations at Credit Suisse.
Support for PH business
In the Philippine setting, the $3.6-million fund would also support Department of Trade and Industry-Board of Investments' inclusive business accreditation.
The ADB also plans to approve a major loan that would cater to job generation in rural areas through private sector initiatives.
Besides the $3.6million release, the ADB advisory board also discussed and planned the multilateral's activities for the year, which would include cacao production programs in the Philippines, spice production in Cambodia and India, and a water project in China.
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