Caroline Ashley

Caroline focuses on how innovative economic models can deliver more inclusive and resilient development.

Caroline has worked on markets, business models and investment approaches that deliver social impact for many years in roles with challenge funds, impact investors, entrepreneurs, corporates, NGOs and policy makers. As Results Director of the DFID Business Innovation Facility, and Sida Innovations Against Poverty programme, she founded the Practitioner Hub for Inclusive Business in 2010, then took on hosting it, and acted as Editor of the Hub for 7 years before it transitioned into InclusiveBusiness.net managed by IBAN.

Most recently Caroline led economic justice programmes at Oxfam GB, before moving to Forum for the Future, to lead global systems change programmes to accelerate our transition to a sustainable future.

Sifting through the noise: providing curated quality content for inclusive business practitioners

5. Jul 2017

In April, the Hub launched a survey to understand the views and needs of our members.  We wanted to know what our audience find useful in their work and how we can support practitioners to increase their impact. This year the survey has taken on particular significance, as the Practitioner Hub is collaborating with the Inclusive Business Action Network to develop an upgraded platform for inclusive business, so feedback from practitioners will be essential in ensuring changes on the Hub reflect the needs of our audience.   

How are we doing?

We are glad to know that over 80% are satisfied with the Practitioner Hub as an online platform for inclusive business practitioners and 86% of respondents would recommend the Hub to colleagues.     But satisfaction that we are doing OK is not enough, we are using the survey responses to get more detail about who uses what and who wants what.

location-of-respondents

Whose voice did we hear?

We heard from practitioners spread around the world. While nearly 50% work for companies or social enterprises, others work for intermediaries (consultancies, NGOs, government, academia and challenge funds and investors, in descending order).

The majority of respondents were from the Global South (60%), dominated by Sub Saharan Africa (40% of responses) followed by Asia (14%).   For northern respondents, Europe dominates (29% of respondents).  We believe this is roughly representative of our membership base.  It also shows an opportunity to spread good practice even further across all continents. We’ll be ensuring we provide a range of blogs and examples from around the world, strengthening the work we are doing in Sub-Saharan Africa, building on links we have in South Asia and seeking partners, blogs and links in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Access all Hub themes here
Access all Hub themes here

What services do you find useful?

Overall respondents told us that our monthly themes, blogs and Editor’s choice were the most useful services on the Hub.  This echoes the results from our 2015 survey. Those working for social enterprises and companies also listed SearchInclusivebusiness.org and Hub Publications as some of their top content.  We provide these as part of a 'gateway' to other information on inclusive business implementation.

Is the Hub making a difference to your organisation?

In this survey, we went beyond asking about usage or usefulness.  We asked whether and how it contributed to ‘significant changes to their organisation’. It was great to hear that 27% of the Hub users said yes, the largest groups of these coming from not-for-profits and companies. Responses included:

“Last year I attended the boot camp (Agribusiness business model) from IBA thanks to Practitioner Hub newsletter.”- a not for profit organisation

“I have found a high number of IB businesses which I have used for my research purposes.”- academic/student

“Useful tips from others have helped us adapt our services”- a company

“Better preparation of our message and pitch to clients” a not for profit organisation

“used materials and publications to inform strategies for project and program design”- a not for profit organisation

“Got valuable information that helped to connect to new partners”- a government/donor respondent

 

So, what do you think we should be providing in the future?

Our focus up to now has been on providing practical information on how to effectively implement inclusive business models, from blogs by practitioners to useful tools like Checklists, and Webinars. These were reflected in suggested priorities going forward.  Respondents from all types of organisations stated that ‘Curating high-quality content on inclusive business implementation’ came in the number one priority spot, closely followed by ‘Providing tools, boot camps and webinars’. The least popular was ‘Providing information about national policy regulations’, so policy won’t be a key area we cover going forward.

Access Hub webinars here
View all the Hub webinars again here

Replies on webinars pose us a few conundrums.  Awareness of webinars has increased markedly since the last survey - not surprisingly given the seven webinars we have done since.  Among respondents to this survey, webinars were listed as a priority going forward, but relatively few had actually used them, or scored them as useful (this contrasts with the feedback surveys we do immediately post each webinar which show participants rate them highly).   So, we think that there is a call for webinars and other tools amongst our membership, but will continue to monitor feedback closely.

If there was one common criticism, it is that great content isn’t always easy to find on the site. We’ll be taking action on this, reviewing how the site is laid out to make sure everything is easily accessible.

Finally, why do people get involved in the Hub?

Many people said that they contributed to the Hub in order to share learning and experiences with the wider community. We really appreciate your inputs, if you would like to contribute do send us an email on enquiries@inclusivebusinesshub.org 

For the majority of you who would recommend the site to colleagues and friends, don't just say it - do it!  Just ask them to register here at inclusivebusinesshub.org/register.

 

Thank you again to all those who participated in the survey, your feedback will help us improve what we do.  If you have further thoughts on how the Hub has helped your business or organisation or how we can meet your needs, get in touch with the Practitioner Hub team on enquiries@inclusivebusinesshub.org