From Paper to Practice: Learning from the Journeys of Inclusive Business Start-ups

Drawing lessons from the journeys of inclusive business start-ups
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This paper explores findings from the portfolio of inclusive businesses start-ups supported by Innovations Against Poverty (IAP), a 3-year pilot program established by Sida in 2011. The report provides useful insights for funders, impact investors, accelerators and advisors, as well as entrepreneurs facing the real challenges and opportunities of early-stage inclusive business. Findings include:

  • The results at this early stage are mixed: about as many business supported by IAP have broken even as have found that their business models are not viable in their current form. Most are somewhere in the middle, with the likelihood of commercial viability and development impact still difficult to assess;
  • The grantees that have been operational over the past year have already shown a number of lessons related to improving and adapting business models, creating consumer demand, appealing to peoples aspirations and sense of dignity, developing affordable products and services and finding the right distribution channels;
  • IAP grant funding seems to have clear additionality by helping companies undertake activities that would not have gone ahead, or not in the same way or to the same degree, without IAP involvement.


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