Purpose The work explores the development of inclusive businesses, paying particular attention to the mission and the motivations underlying the choices of sustainable businesses that—by increasing access to goods and services and creating new sources of income—benefit low-income communities and bring added value for companies and people living in poverty alike. Research design/methodology Our approach is both deductive and inductive. After having outlined the theoretical framework, we provide multiple case studies relative to different inclusive business experiences. This is followed by a discussion on the different approaches in which we try to categorize them according to two fundamental types: CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)-oriented approaches and CSV (Corporate Share Value)- oriented approaches. Findings We found that there are a variety of inclusive business models whose differences can be predominantly attributed to the ethical perspectives at the base of their entrepreneurial formula. Value/originality The value of the study is attributable to the attention paid to the authenticity of the mission of inclusive business, which lies in an ethical orientation toward poverty and disadvantaged peoples. This helps evaluate inclusive business experiences, often less known—as the EoC (Economy of Communion) companies, or the “ideal motive” SMEs—in which the principles of inclusion, responsibility, and sustainability are based more on the authentic virtues and charisma of the entrepreneurs and managers than on the desire to conjure new ways of making a profit by reducing situations of poverty in different areas of the world.
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