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‘Innovating for Inclusive Business’ Workshop: Candid Reflections

The BIF Bangladesh Team has always been a proactive member of the business and development sectors. Together as a team, we have attended multiple workshops where we visualized a future where IB models would be led by successful NGO-Business partnerships. The workshops, such as the one hosted by RBPB (Responsible Business Promotion in Bangladesh), a CARE Bangladesh program, had excellent discussions featuring distinguished speakers to promote partnership.

This is why when we decided to organize our own workshop, ‘Innovating for Inclusive Business’, I was a little apprehensive. After all, what could we possibly do to make the experience exceptional for participants? We can have all the discussions we want, but ultimately what drives the point on NGO-Business partnership building is when these discussions leave a lasting impact.

Fortunately, my apprehension and anxiety were unfounded when I saw the Workshop Agenda suggested by our Country Focal Point, Tom Harrison. Tom’s agenda included exercises that intended to be not just great icebreakers, but also help participants- to quote Inclusive Business Model. Again, though, I was a little scared as to whether a dynamic and interactive workshop format turn out to be intimidating for participants who are more accustomed to a reactive trial.

With that thought push away somewhere in my memories, we sat down to draft Concept Notes, create invitations and select venues. The days went by as we all worked together to confirm participation, attend to special calls and finally welcome in our trainers for the workshop. For the training and facilitation of this event, BIF Bangladesh was partnering with The Partnering Initiative (TPI) and International Development Enterprises (IDE). TPI was represented by Ms. Nazneen Huq and Rajeev Pradhan came in from IDE.

On the chilly morning of February 5, 2012, we assembled together to inaugurate the workshop. Opening words followed, and we promptly issued Pre-Workshop Feedback Forms to holistically gauge participants’ understanding of IB. 76% of participants responded that they have a vague understanding of inclusive businesses. A presentation on IBs then took place and then it was the participants’ turn to fill in by introducing themselves and their work via visual aids. Here’s when the fright once again kicked in.

As soon as the instructions were projected, the surprise and confusion were apparent on some faces. However, slowly and surely, they started fleshing out details about themselves and the rounds of demonstration proceeded. What amazed me was how well the participants responded to this unique exercise and was successful in conveying ideas to each other. The bar for information exchange was set, so to speak. 

What really crushed any traces of fear in me was when the participants were later asked to repeat the exercise, except to illustrate their IB models this time. The participants constructed models principally on Agro based themes, but this set the ball rolling and soon they found like-minded partners amongst themselves. After much discussion, 6 IB models stood independently- on 6 colorful pieces of art paper, of course.

The exercises proved to pay dividends in terms of IB awareness, as proved by the Post-Workshop Feedback Form attached here Workshop participants feedback analysis. Over 95% confirmed a healthy understanding of IB and had solid ideas that they were interested to implement. It was a very rewarding epiphany for us.


So, to Tom: thank you for your interactive exercises. We at the BIF Bangladesh Team hope we can get together to arrange more workshops or implement refined IB models in the near future.

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Comment by Caroline Ashley, Editor on March 14, 2012 at 9:33

Thanks Nazmul, very interesting. And great feedback - it's good to see how many participants not only say it was useful but can specify how they will actually use what they gained. 

Anyone reading this should also look at Tom's great blog, with U-shaped journey and U-tube video. 

best, Caroline

Comment by Parveen Sultana Huda on March 13, 2012 at 14:32

Great job Nazmul - finally you are blogging! We certainly do look forward to organizing more of such workshops in Bangladesh in future!

Comment by Tom Harrison on March 13, 2012 at 8:56

Thanks Nazmul, I am so glad that you have such a positive reflection on the workshop.  This is a really nice blog too, and I look forward to seeing many more!

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