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Decision and Policy Analysis Research Area – DAPA

New publication: “Is Inclusive Business for you?”

In mid-July 2014, the Islands of Success to Seas of Change initiative released its second publication, entitled “Is Inclusive Business for You? Managing and upscaling an inclusive company: Lessons from the field.”


Largely based on the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)’s LINK Methodology, the new report provides a synthesis of ten case studies of various commodities in East African countries. The study encountered general recurring principles when comparing different implementations of inclusive business models (IBM). These principles help distil lessons learned in terms of incentives and mechanisms for inclusiveness, success factors and obstacles – as well as opportunities for scaling up successful models. It is available for download here.

What is Seas of Change?

Launched in April 2012, the Seas of Change initiative is coordinated by the Center for Development Innovation (CDI) of Wageningen University & Research Centre. The aforementioned publication received additional support from the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) and the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs.

The project brings together hundreds of international leaders from the public and private sectors, development organizations, farmer cooperatives and research institutes for dynamic and frank exchanges in workshop settings. The learning initiative focuses on inclusive business models, aiming to improve our understanding of how agri-food markets can contribute to food security and poverty reduction while still building profitable commercial relations.

For more information on the project and to stay up to date with future initiatives, visit the Seas of Change website.

Dynamic workshops

So far, Seas of Change has organized two workshops:

In October 2012, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) hosted an Inclusive Business Model workshop in Rome, Italy in collaboration with Sustainable Food Laboratory, CIAT, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), Wageningen and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), among others. The workshop aimed to identify guidelines for taking to scale inclusive business innovations that increase the role of smallholders in national and regional agri-food systems. Participants also discussed IBM’s role in facilitating inclusive business between small farmers and buyers.

The workshop included presentations on existing frameworks that promote these inclusive business models. Mark Lundy, senior researcher on the Linking Farmers to Markets team at DAPA-CIAT, presented the LINK Methodology. LINK’s objective is to build inclusive and sustainable trading relationships linking smallholders to modernized markets. Entities such as iDE, FAO, GIZ, UNDP and Oxfam also presented frameworks, focusing on themes such as the role of the private sector, poverty alleviation and increased food production.

There’s no way we can get scale if we just talk about corporate social responsibility. That’s for the nice glossy brochure, not core business. It’s interesting to see the conversation shifting from people on the corporate social responsibility end, to the buyers, the procurement teams, and the people with stakes in the actual outcomes. (Mark Lundy, CIAT)

The notion that smallholders are not merely producers, but are also employees, business owners, consumers and buyers, carried over to a Seas of Change February 2014 workshop in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Over the course of two days, more than 60 participants from organizations such as Heineken, Oxfam, Unilever, Solidaridad and Syngenta shared successes and challenges from cases of inclusive business from different sectors and places in the value chain.

We hope you take the time to explore the Seas of Change website, and get to know their newest publication – which CIAT is proud to have contributed to through the LINK Methodology.


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