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Spreadsheets are where data go to die

November 10, 2017 in Hub-Blog

The data problem and opportunity 570 million smallholder farms, using less than two hectares of land, account for roughly 12% of the world’s agricultural land (World Development, 2016). These farms supply around 30% of our global food commodities, but are hard to reach and often with little formal ... (more...)

Introducing an ‘Unusual Beast’: the Technical Assistance Facility to the African Agriculture Fund

June 5, 2017 in Hub-Blog

by Karen Smith and Carolin Schramm “(AAF’s TAF) has been able to leverage funds that would not normally be associated with commercial investment and deploy this capital in a way that can make huge social impacts in areas where commercial investors might not naturally invest.” Stuart Bradley, Joint ... (more...)

Working with DINGOs: overcoming the cultural gap between two very different worlds

January 13, 2017 in Hub-Blog

It is hard to find business leaders in developing countries who can find the time to comment on development. This is not because they are unaware or unsupportive of development ambitions – often quite the opposite is true – but because the challenges that firms face just to survive in developing ... (more...)

Stimulating BDS – Lessons from the “Warm Heart of Africa”

September 8, 2016 in Hub-Blog

This blog is based on experiences in Malawi – a country with perhaps one of the hardest (non-fragile state) business environments in which MSMEs can attempt to operate. I managed the Business Innovation Facility in Malawi (BIF) for four years, firstly as an inclusive business programme and then the ... (more...)

Size Isn’t Everything: Quality vs Quantity of Development Impact in Inclusive Agribusiness

June 28, 2016 in Hub-Blog

Development programmes wish to be as impactful as possible – of course. It makes sense that for any investment, social or otherwise, that you want to see the biggest returns. So donors add up the number of beneficiaries reached by their development investments and these figures are the strongest and ... (more...)

Government, inclusive business and donor facilitation

May 8, 2015 in Hub-Blog

Inclusive economic growth As development practitioners our primary goal is poverty reduction, and economic growth is essential (but not sufficient on its own) to achieve this. As illustrated below (Porter & Ketels, 2003), this requires a vibrant and competitive private sector, enabled by a progressive ... (more...)

Enlightened by the BIF/RENAMA Renewable Energy Workshop

September 13, 2013 in Hub-Blog

On Monday BIF Malawi co-hosted a workshop on renewable energy, inviting participants from public and private sectors (the event page will be up shortly). The primary aim was to facilitate discussion on the development of private sector RET companies in in the country, given the lack of capacity and reach ... (more...)

When size matters: the challenge of scale in inclusive business

June 21, 2013 in Hub-Blog

It doesn’t take a lightbulb moment to see that there is a market of millions of consumers in rural Malawi – but a business will need to be prepared to be inventive and determined to reach these “last mile” customers in order to be able to generate profits. The issues below are just some that ... (more...)

Making a plan

May 24, 2013 in Hub-Blog

The phrase “let’s make a plan” for me represents the eternally positive spirit of the corner of Africa in which I live. In tricky sub-saharan terrains everything can, and does, break or go wrong. But rather than bitching and blaming someone else, someone will say – “we’ll make a plan” – ... (more...)

MEGA micro-hydro, Malawi – call for donor support

May 2, 2013 in Hub-Blog

Duncan White explains the figures behind this flier in more detail in his recent blog. The flier was designed to communicate the key points of the MEGA scheme to attract donor support for this innovative social enterprise approach to managing a number of micro-hydro schemes at Mulanje mountain in Malawi. ... (more...)