Editor's Choice

The Editor’s Choice blog is a monthly review of a top resource or report in inclusive business.  There are so many resources, documents, tools, reports, videos out there, it can be hard to know where to start.  We choose one that we like and tell you why we like it and who else should find it useful.   Until the end of 2017, Editor’s Choice blogs were written by Caroline Ashley as Hub Editor.   Going forward, they are written by a range of guest editors, both from the core team and from beyond.

Editor's Choice, September 2016: useful resources mapping support for entrepreneurs - and some important gaps

13. Sep 2016

This month, Editor's Choice is an assortment of resources not a single report, flagging up what doesn't, as well as what does, exist on the topic of this month's Hub theme- inclusive business development services.

In this area there is a cluster of really useful, but probably not very well known, reports and resources. They are piecemeal - only covering some countries.  But if you are developing inclusive businesses in those countries, you should know about them.


What already exists and you should know about

ANDE and others have mapped the entrepreneurial ecosystem is several countries. Each country map is available here (not longer available). There are a few reports with an African focus - 2 on Kenya - and several for Latin America:  Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Uruguay.  Some are by ANDE, others by Argidius Foundation or Good Growth Fund.  

They have plenty of descriptive information, like this summary visual from the South African map, and descriptions of whose doing what.  But also good analysis of where the gaps are.

The problem with these reports is they are quite buried, you have to dig them out country by country, and from the text pages you have to dig out what you most need.  So the second key resource is an online database, which aims to list the full range of organisations offering financial and technical support, and enable smart searching by the user.   This is the second part of our Search Inclusive Business database - the first part is a listing of over 1,500 publications.

So far, SearchIB: organisations lists 270 organisations that offer financial and/or technical support.  It has just been updated in partnership with Connect to Grow, focusing on entries for the countries with businesses that they support:  Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Rwanda, Nigeria, Myanmar, Nepal and Bangladesh. Our aim is to work with GIZ and many other partners to massively expand it globally.  But it's already a useful resource to start your search, including many global organisations that offer support around the world.

…and what is missing

But this brings me onto some key gaps.  Time for my moan.  The first thing that is missing is decent information on organisations' own websites. Having overseen the construction of the initial Hub Database of Financial and Technical Support for IB, in 2011-12, and the creation of SearchIB: organisations in 2015-16, I know it is surprisingly hard work to list each organisation by what it offers, who for, where, and summarise it in 2 sentences.  This is because website text tends to be blah.   It is often not clear what exactly is and is NOT on offer, and the eligibility criteria. So, I urge all funders and tech providers to look at their website with a newcomer’s eyes and get editing.

Something more is missing too:  information on results. Recently, I co-authored a report for Connect to Grow about initiatives that support SMEs for B2B partnership and innovation transfer.  My colleague Carolin Schramm has described our findings, which include the fact a lot is happening, but there is very little to report on impact.  Hardly any TA-providers (many donor funded) account for the impact they have.  A few impact investors are sharing results, but other financiers rarely so.   We found one very honest report of a Danish partnership programme that didn't generate sufficient results, so was not continued. Refreshing. 

So in this context, I hugely welcome the Global Accelerator Learning Initiative (GALI) which is a joint initiate of ANDE and Emory University, and other partners.   GALI is tracking data from thousands of businesses that participate in scores of accelerators.  Best of all, it looks at those that didn't get accelerated as well as those that did.  Their most recent support shares findings from Village Capital investees, and it is already starting to show useful results.   For example, entrepreneurs that spend MORE time back in their own businesses, not just with the accelerator, do better.    GALI has more reports coming up over the next year, and as the data set gets deeper and wider, watch this space.  The evidence will be influential.

The final thing that is missing, is the great big comprehensive database that cuts across all the individual reports, different organisations' maps, and puts it all in one place. That's what I hope SearchIB will become.  But that raises more questions:  it is clearly inefficient to have information missing from the public domain, or scattered in many places.  But who should fund the cost of aggregating it?   Donors for the first time, but for the long-term?   Is there a business model to make this kind of resource sustainable, given its highest value is for enterprises that are early stage, not necessarily brilliantly networked, but needing to minimise their time spent hunting for the right support? We're open to ideas! All comments welcome below this blog.

This blog is part of the September 2016 series on Inclusive Business Development Services, in partnership with the Inclusive Business Accelerator. Don’t miss the whole series on support available to inclusive business from practitioners, donors and intermediaries including Afrilabs, DFID, Endeva, EY and many more…  


Global Accelerator Learning Initiative (GALI) which is a joint initiate of ANDE and Emory University

Search Inclusive Business: database of publications and support organisations