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All Blog Posts (931)

The Impact Programme – Market Survey

Information, as they say, is power. Nowhere is this truer than in business and finance. Most new business ventures will involve an element of risk or a leap of faith. However, the better calculated that risk, or the more accurately measured the leap, the better the chance of success. Which is why, the Impact Programme, a programme funded by the UK’s Department of International Development and delivered in partnership with CDC and the Global Impact Investing Network, is launching a…

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Added by Liz Patterson on October 23, 2014 at 19:52 — No Comments

Harnessing the potential of Baobab to provide Mozambican women with new income opportunities

Harnessing the potential of Baobab to provide Mozambican women with new income opportunities

They are one of the most visually-enthralling trees on the planet. The ancient Baobab – endemic mostly to semi-arid regions of tropical Africa including Mozambique – can live for over 1000 years. Sometimes called the ‘tree of life’, indigenous communities have relied on Baobabs for shelter, food, medicine, clothing and raw materials for generations.

A neglected and under-utilised…

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Added by Jona Liebl on October 23, 2014 at 8:00 — No Comments

Comparing inclusive business results across three portfolios

I recently had a fascinating few days comparing data and results across three inclusive business portfolios: the Business Innovation Facility pilot (2010-2013),  Innovations Against Poverty pilot (2011-2013) and Business Call to Action (5 years old and on going).  I'd worked on BIF for four years, and IAP for three, leading their M&E,  and with BCtA for the last 4 months reviewing progress of their members.   So the data is based on years of rich engagement with 3 contrasting portfolios,…

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Added by Caroline Ashley, Editor on October 21, 2014 at 17:00 — No Comments

Partnerships for innovation in access to basic services

The Innovation and Technology for Development Centre at the Technical University of Madrid has recently completed a two-year research study on new collaborative models for addressing gaps in access to services for the most poor and vulnerable. These arrangements offer…

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Added by Leda Stott on October 21, 2014 at 14:08 — No Comments

Time to start challenging our assumptions that start-ups can’t reach scale

Can start-ups scale? Can social enterprises reach sufficient millions of people to really crack problems of poverty? This question has been around for many years. Now first answers are emerging.

A crop of ‘breakthrough’ social enterprises are emerging. They are growing fast, securing investment and partners, and reaching millions of people. Of course they do not prove that all social enterprises scale, but they certainly show that they can. This month,…

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Added by Caroline Ashley, Editor on October 15, 2014 at 19:30 — 1 Comment

Two types of inclusive businesses: It's not just size that matters

How does one break down and analyse an inclusive business portfolio as large and diverse as Business Call to Action’s? The 94 BCtA member companies that have set up inclusive business initiatives range from global corporate conglomerates set up many decades ago, to early-stage social enterprises operating in just one area. So when it came to analysing the data for the BCtA flagship report…

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Added by Lara Sinha on October 14, 2014 at 16:00 — 1 Comment

Growing Up: Why Innovative Finance is Key to Scaling and Replicating MSMEs

This blog was co-authored by Aline Krämer, co-founder and director at Endeva.

Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) drive job creation and economic diversification, and are critical for development. Unfortunately, small companies too often stay small. Despite great business models, they do not grow to be medium-sized or larger and are…

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Added by Alyssa Rivera on October 13, 2014 at 21:30 — No Comments

SEED Africa Symposium 2014: co-creating solutions through social and green entrepreneurship

Making growth sustainable: co-creating solutions through social and green entrepreneurship was the overall title of this year’s SEED Africa Symposium, organised by SEED in collaboration with a variety of partners.  What are the innovative small, micro and medium sized enterprises (SMMEs) that drive the change to sustainable development? How can linkages between social and green enterprises and businesses be strengthened for greater innovation and impact? What barriers do they face and…

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Added by Anais Mangin on October 13, 2014 at 14:00 — No Comments

Careful choices - how BCtA companies use partnerships

Partnerships between companies in the same value or chain, or between companies and non-traditional partners such as NGOs or government agencies, have been a feature of inclusive business for some time.  What is now becoming clear is that some companies are becoming much more sophisticated about when and how to use such partnerships – and when not partner at all. This is one of the insights that I had recently when part of the team reviewing BCtA’s portfolio, and helping to write…

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Added by Tom Harrison on October 10, 2014 at 18:00 — 1 Comment

Breaking through and hitting scale at the BoP: A brief look at the reach and revenue of Business Call to Action member initiatives

The Breaking Through, Inclusive Business and the Business Call to Action report reviews the progress made by 94 inclusive business initiatives towards providing benefits to people at the Base of the Pyramid (BoP) while achieving commercial success. So two of the first questions on our list for this review were:

  1. How many people at the BoP have been…
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Added by Joe Shamash on October 10, 2014 at 11:00 — 1 Comment

SolarNow closes equity funding round with Novastar Ventures & Acumen

€2 million equity investment lays groundwork for scaling renewable energy asset finance and distribution in East Africa

SolarNow, the Uganda-based solar asset finance company, has closed its most recent equity round, raising €2 million from Novastar Ventures and Acumen, to help meet massive demand for high-quality solar technology in East Africa.

Providing a range of modular 50-500 Watt solar home systems and DC appliances through a franchise model to…

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Added by Florent Renders on October 10, 2014 at 10:00 — No Comments

Editor’s Choice, October 2014: Finding out about clients – groundbreaking work by ZHL Ambulance Service, Acumen and Grameen

A groundbreaking report assessing patients who use ZHL emergency ambulance service in India is now public.    Whether you work in health, stoves, fertiliser or anything else, this report has relevance, because it demonstrates how to understand more about who your clients are,  how poor they are,  how many women are reached,  and why different client groups engage with the business.…

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Added by Editor's Choice on October 9, 2014 at 18:30 — 1 Comment

Mud Sanitation



The first concern of organizations working on issues of sanitation, is based on the principle of preserving respect for the human person during defecation, rather than the future of the consequence of this biological need: fecal matter.

Following this principle, defecation in the open was banned for defecating in place of comfort in an enclosed area. For the past 70 years all these technical provisions preserve some privacy, comfort, but never provided solve the real problems of…

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Added by D'Alexandris on October 9, 2014 at 15:21 — No Comments

Biological cleansing purification of waste waters

The Biological Cleansing (A.B) with its process Pit Biological " lyseconcept is a revolution in…

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Added by D'Alexandris on October 9, 2014 at 15:07 — No Comments

The positive role of governments in inclusive business

Government regulations are typically seen as a barrier to business in base of the pyramid markets. But the Business Call to Action’s report Breaking Through highlights a number of cases where government support is helping inclusive business start-ups to quickly reach scale.

Datawind is an Indian company that manufactures low-cost data tablets. At only $35, its Aakash tablet is putting the internet into the…

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Added by Suzanne Krook on October 8, 2014 at 20:43 — 1 Comment

Base of the pyramid initiatives and the importance of measuring impact

By becoming BCtA members, our companies commit to improving the lives of low-income populations through commercially viable business models. The work of BCtA members benefit people at the base of the pyramid (BoP) in many sectors, from agriculture to energy to education to health and nutrition.

Our first flagship report, Breaking Through…

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Added by Tomohiro Nagasaki on October 8, 2014 at 16:30 — 1 Comment

Bringing mobility to Mozambique’s poorest

‘Teach a man how to fish‘ or, as in this case, ‘ride a bike’, espouses the core aim of the founders of a social and green enterprise that is intent on improving the living standards of rural Mozambicans. Maputo-based Mozambikes wants to help fight poverty by providing affordable,…

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Added by Jona Liebl on October 8, 2014 at 10:39 — No Comments

SEED 2014 Winners: Green Entrepreneurship is Thriving Across Africa and Beyond

From Mobile Solar Computer Classrooms to Novel Baobab Products: Green Entrepreneurship is Thriving Across Africa and Beyond

Last month Nairobi played host of one of the largest gatherings of start-up social and environmental enterprises in Africa, as the 41 SEED Awards Winners were celebrated at the 2014 SEED Africa Symposium.…

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Added by Anais Mangin on October 8, 2014 at 10:30 — No Comments

Make Our Earth Greener Through Biomass Briquetting Project

The briquetting plants are used to provide the green, economical and cheaper bio fuel briquette that is commonly known as white coal within the industries. This fuel briquette may be a useful energy supply of the natural biomass waste released from the agricultural and forestry wastages.

The biomass briquettes…

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Added by Deepi Makwana on October 7, 2014 at 6:30 — No Comments

Behind the headline numbers on beneficiaries reached - "How are you reporting?"

The headline for business aiming for positive social impact is often total number of beneficiaries reached - either as suppliers, consumers, employees or entrepreneurs. 

But how best to document the assumptions and calculations behind these headline numbers? Two different methods can lead to two very different figures - companies could choose to report just direct customers or multiply by household size to get a grand total. And 'direct customers' could be based on actual records, or…

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Added by Joe Shamash on September 30, 2014 at 18:00 — 1 Comment

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