Inclusive Business in Africa Part2- support from others

In the last post I talked about the Practitioner’s workshop in Uganda as well as the questions I had to address as a panelist. Whilst the first question served as an introduction of what each individual panelists does and the lesson they have learned thus far, this post deals with systems, support and working with others.

As discussed in the last post we had 4 questions to address as panelists so here is

Question 2

a) When companies are starting and/or scaling inclusive business models, what kind of support do they need from others-other companies, donors, development finance institutions, civil society organisations?

There is every likelihood that this type of business has been started by someone because they want to right an injustice or even out of  passion and as such they may not necessarily have the right set of skills required to run/scale up such a business. In those circumstances access to the right training and or information is a vital. The sort of information might be how to access cheap finance, work premises or even setting up a legal structure for the business.

In addition understanding the agendas of the various institutions can be a minefield and yet this is what could make it easier to scale up that business. I certainly wanted to know answers to the  following questions to enable  me to focus the project.

  1. What are the sourcing criteria for other companies?
  2. What does this business need to do to become part of the supply chain of  of a big corporation?

Bearing in mind that projects like Ethnic Supplies may be set up by people without prior experience of running business it is important to receive feedback in terms of quality of product and services from those with prior experience – in other words information on what works could make a huge difference

b) What advice would you have for these stakeholders-how can they engage most effectively with companies to start and/or scale inclusive business models?

It is important point to note is that Scaling such businesses is not always about the money and other things to consider might include

  • Streamlined processes for registering a business- – it should not take months to register a business
  • the conditions of transacting business must be right and these may include improving legislation, Customs,
  • legal processes for land and property acquisitions
  • speedy and effective institutions- why does it take 2 years for example to buy a piece of land in order to expand business premises
  • corruption- how do we stamp this out in order that it does not kill off new enterprises
  • Transparency- how can new/small enterprises access donor funding?
  • harness new talent and African ingenuity
  • Stakeholders need to develop inclusive policies these might include partnering with these type of businesses in order to meet their agendas instead of working with larger companies only- this really has to do with supply policies
  • Are stakeholders checking how folk down the supply chain are treated?
  • Do they for instance benefit directly from the development finance?
  • Flexibility- how flexible are stakeholders when it comes to working with suppliers/producers from developing economies? SAB Miller sources sorghum directly from Ugandan and Zambian farmers
  • Understand issues faced by producers/suppliers in the developing economies but not necessarily at the expense of good commercial sense

So there you have it folk.. in the next post I will answer question 3  which is about measuring the impact of Inclusive Businesses in Africa. Do drop by, ask you friends, associates and or contacts to do the same.

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