News 2012

Sunlabob CEO shares insight about supporting “inclusive business” in developing regions

United Nations forum in South Korea discusses the critical role of business in global development and poverty reduction

Andy Schroeter, co-founder and CEO of Sunlabob Renewable Energy, this week presented at the United Nations Development Programme and The Global Compact’s “Workshop on Inclusive Business Development” in Seoul, South Korea to discuss the best strategies for catalyzing the growth of “inclusive businesses” – commercially-viable business models that benefit low-income communities by including them in a company’s value chain.

Schroeter, an experienced entrepreneur specializing in creating models for village energy enterprises, spoke about the lessons learned in rural electrification since Sunlabob’s founding in 2001, as well as best practices and mechanisms for supporting the inclusive business ecosystem in Korea and internationally.

“With the rise of innovative entrepreneurs throughout the developing world, now is the time to increase pro-poor public-private partnerships,” said Schroeter. “Combining the skills and experience of the private sector with the resources of the public sector is a critical step in supporting and accelerating sustainable development.”

He joined experts from the private sector, academia and civil society, as well as representatives of the international development community to determine what steps can be taken to facilitate an encouraging environment for inclusive businesses. Schroeter joined other members of the private sector in voicing the need for a series of critical elements, including:

  • better access to finance and investment for growing socially-minded enterprises in the developing world;
  • increased support of inclusive business through better government policies;
  • easier access to knowledge and capacity building; and
  • increased recognition that that public sector actors are “clients” of private sector services (such as renewable energy), while the rural poor are partners and “beneficiaries” of such services.

“Through more than a decade of experience working in rural, poor developing regions of the world, Sunlabob steadfastly believes that base of the pyramid communities must be treated as partners through training and entrepreneurship in order for renewable energy and clean water services to be sustainable – technically, financially and socially,” said Schroeter.

Schroeter recently shared a similar message in November in Seoul at a conference focused on utilizing appropriate technologies for sustainable development, which was convened by Good Neighbors International, a Korea-based non-governmental organization focused on international development in emerging markets.

Sunlabob, a Laos-based company that specializes in using Village Energy Committees (VECs) and Village Energy Technicians (VETs) as integral pieces to its renewable energy and clean water access projects, has taken its years of on-the-ground experience in Southeast Asia to other developing regions including Africa, India and the Pacific Islands.