The Asian Development Bank (ADB) launched on Friday a grant of 3.6 million U.S. dollars to assist Asian companies targeting poor and low-income communities.
The Manila-based lender said the grant will help firms develop new business models relevant to the poor and those on low incomes and assess the social impact of such activities.
The grant will focus on "inclusive businesses," or enterprises and projects that make both profits and provide goods, services and jobs for those living on less than 3 U.S. dollars a day. ADB said around 60 percent of Asia's population live on this small sum.
"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," said ADB economist Armin Bauer in a statement.
ADB said among the projects that may be supported by the grant this year are a cacao project and seafarers scholarships in the Philippines, spice production in Cambodia and India, and a water project in China.
Apart from ADB, the Swedish government and Credit Suisse, an international financial services company, also financed the grant.