Policy brief

How the private sector measures social inclusion and its return on investment

A framework to inform future research

Published by
MarketShare Associates

This brief is part of a larger set of USAID learning initiatives around social inclusion on the Feed the Future Market Systems and Partnerships (MSP) Activity.

It looks at how different private sector actors understand and measure social inclusion and its return on investment (ROI) as an initial step to frame further research on the business case for social inclusion in developing countries.

This work will be the foundation for building a business case and providing practical guidance on social inclusion strategies relevant to the private sector in developing countries to maximise the ROI, while furthering the development objective of social inclusion.

The brief's key takeaways are: 

  • Social inclusion frameworks for private investors, public companies, and private firms share common factors and a focus on women, but measurement rigor and definitions differ.
  • Most ROI metrics focus on direct / ‘quick’ business benefits (e.g. productivity, retention, new market segments), but local firms in developing markets also consider long term, more indirect impact (e.g. innovation, reputation). Suppliers are rarely incorporated.
  • Future research will focus on evidence for key private sector social inclusion factors: talent, leadership, supply chain diversity, culture, workplace safety, gender based violence prevention, plus consumers and branding


Read Erin Markel & Friederike Strub's blog: How does the private sector measure social inclusion and its return on investment?