Editor's choice, September 2012: Database of organisations that support inclusive business
Over 200 organisations and initiatives that provide finance or technical support for inclusive business are listed in a new Database of Financial and Technical Support for Inclusive Business. Better still, these listings can be searched and filtered based on what they offer and which geography they cover.
Jointly produced by the Business Innovation Facility and Innovations Against Poverty, the listing includes 130 organisations that provide some kind of finance, divided into debt, equity, grants and guarantees. Another 120 are listed as providing technical assistance, with others focusing on training, information, or partnerships. The focus of these initiatives is on Africa and Asia, though some cover Latin America or all developing countries. Some initiatives are explicitly dedicated to business that is ‘inclusive,’ while others offer more general business support that inclusive businesses will find valuable.
This database marks a big step forward in the chaotic landscape of support for inclusive business. Most growing businesses need or have some kind of external input, but the transaction costs of finding the right organisation can be a heavy burden. This new database is a way to quickly scan and skim the landscape.
Of course, the database has its limitations too. As Version 1.0, this database is not exhaustive and may have some gaps and errors - we need feedback from users and from those listed to generate an improved Version 2.0. Currently it is no more than a tailored listing: any entrepreneur still has plenty of work to do to identify those that match their needs, contact them directly and develop the link. Experience in the Business Innovation Facility suggests that individual facilitators, who can help ‘match-making’ to connect a business to the best source of finance or support play a critical role. An excel file doesn’t reduce the need for personal choices and dialogue, it just makes one step along the way easier, either for the matchmaker, or particularly for those that are not lucky enough to have a matchmaker helping them.
I admit to hesitation: is this gap not already filled? And should Editor’s Choice select one of our own BIF-IAP publications? But scanning the landscape, we have not found a similar resource that covers both financial and technical support from the perspective of an inclusive business. There are excellent smaller lists of only donor-funded programmes by DCED, or general resources for inclusive business by WBCSD, or lists of impact investment funds by Impact Assets aimed at investors not investees. But not this.
So visit the database: use it, share it, send in suggestions and corrections, and celebrate one more step along the way to reducing hurdles facing inclusive business.