2020 Forecast: Six trends inclusive business entrepreneurs won't want to miss
First, the entrepreneurs.

The businesses these individuals have founded are collectively serving millions while working for gender parity in boardrooms across Africa, waste reduction in Nigeria, access to formal financial services in Bangladesh and a life-saving blood donation platform, also in Nigeria. Here are just a few words from each of them:

Vava Angwenyi

“Running a social enterprise in an environment like Kenya is tough because it is a highly profit-driven country; I would like the environment to improve for young people who run businesses here.”

Vava Angwenyi, Vava Coffee

Marcia Ashong, The Boardroom Africa

"Our goal at TheBoardroom Africa is to double the number of women across the region's boardrooms within the next decade."

Marcia Ashong, The Boardroom Africa

Temie Giwa-Tubosun, LifeBank

"We have saved about 4,000 lives. Our primary goal this year is to break even so that our revenue can finance our operations and then we can only raise financing for growth."

Temie Giwa-Tubosun, LifeBank

Olawale Adebiyi

“[Our goal is] to be the largest recycling company in Africa. We are committed to ensuring that the recyclable materials that are being generated in Nigeria don't end up sitting in dump sites or the ocean for the next thousand years.”

Olawale Adebiyi, Wecyclers

Kamal Quadir

“…in every business case I design, I remain mindful that it needs to prioritise value generation at an individual level. If I can ensure that, then the collective value must be immense at a society level.”

Kamal Quadir, bKash

CLUED-iN’s Editorial Committee is comprised of entrepreneurs and experts in finance, agriculture, policy, innovation, economic justice and inclusive business strategy who are all working to support the growing cohort of businesses that are serving their communities, regions and the world through mission-driven, financially viable business models.

We asked them:

What do entrepreneurs most need to pay attention to in 2020? Why?

What is one example of a business responding to this well?
Or, what is some practical advice for entrepreneurs on how they can work on this in the new year?
Here’s what they said:
Royston Braganza, CEO Grameen Capital India Limited says,

Royston Braganza

“I have two words for you: working capital. Given the trends we are seeing the world over, working capital is likely to become increasingly challenging to raise. Finding new pools of capital, diversifying funding sources, better cash flow management and innovative capital structuring will be key in 2020. Any scarcity or delay in raising working capital could derail business plans and cause stress to business viability. The current economic and credit trends indicate there is likely to be further contraction on the horizon.”

Advice for entrepreneurs? “Diversify funding sources and revisit business plans. There are positive trends like growing awareness, new players in the impact investing space and a push towards SDG finance. Entrepreneurs can reclassify their social enterprises along the lines of the SDGs to take advantage of this trend.”

Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli, Managing Partner, Sahel Consulting Agriculture & Nutrition says,

Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli

Innovation. In 2020, in order to effectively withstand the pressure to make trade-offs between profit and impact in the short and medium-term, entrepreneurs committed to building and growing inclusive businesses must innovate to spur growth and reduce operating expenses and costs. Consumer purchasing power is decreasing in many parts of the global south and governments are placing more climate-smart regulations and greater tax burdens on businesses. This essentially means they must be willing to sacrifice profit in the short to medium term to deepen their inclusive engagement with key stakeholders in their supply chain and distribution channels.”

Who is doing this well? “Royal Dutch DSM is an example of a global company that is investing in innovation to address this double-edged challenge.” Learn how:


Advice for entrepreneurs? “Actively engage your suppliers, distributors and customers to explore innovative solutions to drive growth and profitability.” 

Caroline Ashley, Economic Justice Lead, Oxfam says,

Caroline Ashley

“A rapid and substantial transition to slashing their own carbon footprint and adapting to the reality of it already. A business should not be called ‘inclusive’ if it is not fulfilling its responsibility to transition to a net-zero carbon economy within the next few years. And its strategy needs to recognise that nature, community and value chains are already being affected by climate change.

Advice for entrepreneurs? Businesses working with farmers need to combine local knowledge and the voices of those farmers—women and men—with the best scientific estimates, constant weather information and early warning systems and innovative financial models for sharing risk along the value chain and investing in mitigation and adaptation measures.

Markus Dietrich, Asia and Policy Director, Inclusive Business Action Network says,

Markus Dietrich

“The exponentially growing impact investment market with an increasing diversification of instruments (e.g. gender-lens investment and performance-based bonds) and the growing number of countries developing policy instruments supporting inclusive business. Lack of finance is still the number one barrier to scale for inclusive businesses. Government support is the ultimate enabler to scale for systemic impact.”

Advice for entrepreneurs? “Sharpen your impact investment readiness to take full advantage of the growing and diversifying impact investor landscape. Embrace the opportunity to jump on the bandwagon of IB policy development. Join public-private policy dialogues and co-create the enabling environment for IB.”

Stuart L. Hart, Steven Grossman Endowed Chair in Sustainable Business, Grossman School of Business says,

Stuart Hart

“Increasingly, it is becoming evident that base of the pyramid entrepreneurs and companies focused on creating markets in the underserved space need to do more than simply offer affordable products and services: They must help catalyse an ecosystem of partners to build livelihoods and sustainably develop underserved communities. Raising families’ incomes and elevating underserved communities helps to ensure that the markets that are created (along with their associated products and services) are truly sustainable over time.”

Who is doing this well? “Mars has launched the Farmer Income Lab as a way to bolster and build the smallholder communities from which they source cacao. The Lab includes an action research component in concert with multiple partners (NGO, academic and otherwise) with a similar motivation.”

Alexis Bonnell, Chief Innovation Officer, USAID says,

Alexis Bonnell

“Customer-centricity and customer-determined value. Ensure that when you are receiving grant money, you agree on measurements that reflect whether your end customer finds value in your product or service, not just a simple metric that will satisfy the donor. Ultimately, this work is not about serving the donors or funders; it is about serving the end customers. Whether that is the host country government, a local business community or an individual consumer, the value proposition must be focused on the end customer. Donors want their money to be changing people's lives and ultimately eliminating that customer’s dependency on aid. You can't do that if you aren't delivering what is valuable to the customer.” 

Who is doing this well? We had a great innovation that we supported with grant money that was about bringing critical weather and other information to subsistence farmers. When we first made the grant, one of the key measurements was the number of farmers served. The grantee was brave enough to come to us and show us how this metric was unintentionally incentivising them to focus on getting new farmers instead of improving their service to the ones they already had. As a result, we changed the metric to the number of farmers who continued to use the app and pay for it after the first year. This incented the business to provide real value to the farmers by focusing on their needs and what information they found valuable, leading 98% of farmers to continue with the service.

Dana Gulley
Dana joined iBAN as the Editor-in-Chief of its online magazine, CLUED-iN, in July 2018. She is the founder and lead consultant at Third Peak Solutions, a firm that advises businesses and nonprofits on developing innovative strategies to solve our world’s most pressing challenges. A trained mediator with a background in natural resources and business administration, Dana has spent her career building cross-sector partnerships to tackle both energy and water issues.