Olivia Elson

Olivia is a development professional with experience in market systems, private sector development and results measurement. She currently works at Results for Development, focusing on identifying and scaling innovative solutions to address systemic challenges in health, education and nutrition in low- and middle-income countries. She supports the management of the International Development Innovation Alliance, a collaboration of world-leading bilateral, multi-lateral and philanthropic agencies working to surface and promote high-impact innovations. Previously, Olivia worked for PwC and had a lead role in the management of the Business Innovation Facility, a DFID-funded market systems development programme.

Introducing the Business Innovation Facility - phase two

East Asia and Pacific
Sub-Saharan Africa
10. Aug 2015

Following the success of the Business Innovation Facility (BIF) Pilot, which ran from 2010 to 2013, the programme was scaled up for a further five years, from 2014 – 2019 in three focus countries: Burma (Myanmar), Malawi and Nigeria.

What does BIF do?

BIF provides technical assistance (and some grant funding) to businesses and other market players with the aim of addressing constraints in selected markets, to make them more inclusive. Ultimately this will mean greater opportunities, better access and improved growth for the poor and disadvantaged people who engage in these markets.

How does BIF work?

For its second phase, BIF has adopted a Market Systems approach, which can be broadly described as follows:

  • Carry out market assessments to select focus markets
  • Develop detailed Market Analysis and Strategies (MAS)
  • Design interventions to address constraints which have been identified through the MAS
  • Identify partners and co-create projects
  • Identify expert consultants to deliver technical assistance in support of the projects
  • Pilot the projects
  • Monitor and evaluate
  • Support adoption, adaption and expansion of the commercially sustainable innovations

Where is BIF working?

At the moment, BIF is working in eleven markets across our three focus countries. These are:

  • Burma (Myanmar): Garments, Tourism, Bamboo
  • Malawi: Pico Solar Products (PSP), Pigeon Pea, Rice
  • Nigeria: Aquaculture, Cassava, Dairy, Information Services, Maize

BIF is also embarking on a new 'company-led' window. This applies the same Market Systems approach but instead of starting with a focus country, selects markets to investigate based on an alternative entry point: companies that are innovating.

Find out more

To find out more about what the Business Innovation Facility is working on, visit our new website: bifprogramme.org

Read the report on inclusive business models that work – or don’t – and the journeys that companies are making, from learnings from BIF Pilot The 4Ps of inclusive business: How perseverance, partnerships, pilots and passion can lead to success

This blog was included in the August 2015 Inclusive Business Highlights newsletter. Click here to read more news, interviews and opinions.