Highlights of 2012?

What were your best moments of 2012? The launch of a project you have been working on? A new partnership you have helped set up? A great book you read or an inspiring speaker you heard? A new example of business fighting poverty that you came across? Or something else you feel particularly proud of?

Looking at the best outputs and reports that share experience on inclusive business, I have several top picks of 2012, so I have put them in a blog here.

Some sharp tools for busy entrepreneurs, a few great overviews of inclusive business options in water, health, agribusiness and energy, and best of all some provocative and forward-thinking work on how inclusive business models can go to scale, or not.

Back in August I undertook my third climate related walk in so many years in UK - the Fair Trade Way. This walk was an extension of a 540km I did last year in India, talking and telling stories about smallholder Coffee growers in the State of Karnataka, which grows over 70 per cent of Indian shade grown Coffee.

The walk and these stories as part of a wider conversation about doing fairer food for all – something that Oxfam’s Grow campaign has been focusing on.

In October, OxfamGB and the Centre for Social Markets, working in partnership with the largest growers federation, produced a report on the benefits of shade grown coffee. The Karnataka Growers federation and Centre for Social Markets is now seeking partnerships for advocacy work based on the study that will work with Coffee business the Governmemt and Consumers in India.

My Business Fights Poverty year, kicked off in Masindi, NW Uganda at the Villages In Action event that is sponsored by Business Fights Poverty. I had the chance to meet inspiring local businesswomen in the village and share ideas on the challenges of running a business.

Most if not all of you must seen the KONY 2012 Video from Invisible children. Well whilst they were busy telling tales we at Ethnic Supplies were taking a different sort of action to support the Women of Kireka, who survived Kony's way in Northern Uganda. Following their escape from Northern Uganda, these women made a living from a quarry in Kireka, just outside Kampala and their greatest wish was to one day have access to sewing machines of their own. Well we made their wish come true!

Read more, and check out the photos in this blog.

A highlight for me was increasing my giving through B1G1 which is a simple yet profound example of business fighting poverty. It is transaction and impact based. I have my giving tied to particular services that I have been trialling and now offering and as the number of users grows so does my giving impact. B1G1 recently passed 20 million giving transactions.

How myself and my colleagues are doing this here and here.

Recently published book entitled Entrepreneurship and Sustainability: Business Solutions for Poverty Alleviation from around the World by Daphne Halkias and Paul Thurman (Editors),

For more information on this book, please visit the publisher’s website at: http://www.ashgate.com/default.aspx?page=1751&pageSubject=312&calcTitle=1&priorityone=1&title_id=10917&edition_id=11252

2012 has been busy on the inclusive business front for the WBCSD team.

We just published a “best of” list on our blog – we subdivided it in 6 parts: the access agenda (energy, water & sanitation, medicines); Information & communication technology as an enabler; Inclusive business @Rio+20; advocacy; policy issues; an tools. See http://www.inclusive-business.org/2012/12/best-of-2012.html

We look forward to further interactions and exchanges with the Business Fights poverty community in view of building an ever-growing movement around inclusive business.

One of the highlights for me this year, professionally speaking, was getting to visit Kenya and Uganda to see how Project Nurture is developing. Project Nurture is a partnership between The Coca-Cola Company, the Gates Foundation, and TechnoServe intended to double the fruit incomes of more than 50,000 smallholder mango and passion fruit farmers by 2014. Amazingly complex endeavor when you consider the core business activities unfolding within the Company AND the facilitation happening all along the value chain from farmers to traders to buyers in various market channels, both fresh and processed. Top notch people involved all around. Look for a report forthcoming in January!

2012 has been a very inspiring year at the BoP Innovation Center. By developing more and more inclusive innovations in Africa, Latin America and Asia, we have been able to capture a number of key learnings. Check out:

"Access to Food and Nutrition at the BoP, Five business interventions to achieve social impact, financial sustainability and scale" in cooperation with GAIN http://www.bopinc.org/en/updates/publications/item/147-report-access-to-food-and-nutrition-for-the-bop

"Inclusive Innovation - shared value at the Base of the Pyramid" http://www.bopinc.org/en/updates/publications/item/163-publication-inclusive-innovation-shared-value-at-the-base-of-the-pyramid

"BoP Insights - inclusive marketing research" http://www.bopinc.org/en/updates/publications/item/164-publication-bop-insights-inclusive-marketing-research

We look forward continuing working with the BFP community next year!


Thank you to everyone who has shared their thoughts so far! For me, a particular highlight was the event that we helped organise in New York to coincide with the UN General Assembly on "Business, the MDGs and Beyond". Business Fights Poverty members can watch the whole event again here. The event kicked off our engagement in discussions on the development framework that will replace the Millennium Development Goals in 2015. Check out the Post-2015 Zone for blogs by Justine Greening (UK Secretary of State for International Development), John Fallon (CEO of Pearson International) and others - all arguing for the importance of thinking about how we can better harness the development contribution of business. I look forward to continuing the conversation with members of Business Fights Poverty in 2013.

My highlights of 2012?

Without doubt it has to be organising TEDxEuston 2012. This year the TEDxEuston team really pulled out all the stops and in the process engaged hungry minds across individuals, entrepreneurs and corporations to challenge conventional wisdom about Africa.

The experience showed me that there is now a verifiable shift in emphasis and the conversations have changed for the better. Our partnership with BFP has been a revelation as the conversations happening on here resonate strongly with me. When the talks from TEDxEuston 2012 become available in mid/late January, it will tell many stories of how Businesses are fighting poverty on the continent.

At the risk of being boring, I agree with you Zahid! The "Business, the MDGs and Beyond" meeting in New York in September was inspiring and hugely positive. Like many others in BFP, I have come to dread the third week in September in New York when the UN General Assembly draws in the Heads of State from around the world bringing traffic chaos and intrusive security everywhere. Over the years, business has been somewhat of a sideshow, holding meetings in the margins and trying to get its message across.

This year was different. There was no talk in the meeting of CSR or philanthropic giving or of why should business bother. This was business people talking about how, through their core business activity, they are making an impact on poverty and development. In particular I remember John Fallon, now the new CEO at Pearson, speaking directly about the role of his business in education and of the shared value that results. Everyone speaking that day had a clear view on the direct relationship between good responsible business and good development. This event marked a tangible sea-change and for those who weren't there, some time at the Business Fights Poverty site will be well rewarded.

2012 was an exceptionally productive year both personally and professionally.

Personally: I graduated from Duke University with my Masters in International Development Policy. The most rewarding part about this was I was able to use my time at Duke to research the constraints for women to be included into the Bengali silk industry. This research would serve as the basis for issues I wanted to be affect through Evolvemint, the business I started after graduating.

Professionally: Launching Evolvemint has been such a triumph. Being able to work with women in Bangladesh and to be a part of sustainable approaches towards economic development in such a short period has been very rewarding. I have learned to be more patient, to be a better listener, and to think about the impact I can have in the short term and the long term.

In both instances, I am lucky to have inspirational family and friends surrounding me. I appreciate these bonds now, and hope to strengthen these relationships in the next year.

"Fight poverty through housing" - To be nominated as a finalist for the Hult Global Initiative in addressing social needs - recognising moladi as technology to impact emerging markets at the BoP - As basic as Maslow's hierarchy of needs - SHELTER and jobs

Hult Global Case Challenge 2012 - Alleviating poverty through housing - Video

To be nominated as a finalist for the Siemens Stiftung - Technologies for basic needs empoweringPeople.Award

A BIG thank you

"Train the unemployed to build for the homeless" - Skills - entrepreneurs - homes - schools - clinics - jobs - food

My best moments of 2012 came at the very end of the year. On December 10th GAIN hosted our annual Business Alliance Forum, where businesses across the Food & Beverage, agribusiness and vitamin & mineral manufacturing industries came together to share the common challenges and cutting edge opportunities for deepening investment into nutrition around the world. Few sectors offer the potential for both social and financial returns that nutrition offers and it was tremendous hearing the insights of these business leaders. Then, on December 11th these businesses came together with many others from government, civil society, academia and donor organizations to launch an exciting new platform for action, the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Business Network. This network will help to channel the most impactful business interventions into high burden countries, in alignment with the national nutrition strategies developed and invested in by governments and donors. For me and I’m told many others, these two days were truly inspirational. They bode well for the future as more and more we hear cooperation speaking louder than suspicion, with new partners investing in new models to sustainably improve the lives of millions. You can read more about both these events on new platforms hosted on Business Fights Poverty. I’m proud to be a part of this great work and look forward to even more in 2013.

2012, has been a year of hard work and dedication for me and my team; we struggle to uplift lives through imparting skills and techniques for wealth creation. As at now, we have gainfully empowered 70 entrepreneurs: petty traders, manufacturers and fashion designers etc; with hands-on skills for sustainable business practices. A empowerement model, I find particularly rewarding to the individual and in the drive to kick poverty out of our lives.

I look forward to enhancing a sustainle saving habits in 2013 through the formation of club of entrepreneurs with a sophisticated package ( access) to our services.

Dear Friends,

Seven years ago, I said that just about all the world’s designers and just about all the worlds large businesses focus just about all their time and energy meeting the needs of the richest 10 percent of the world’s customers. I said then that need nothing less than a revolution in design and revolution in the way big business designs, produces, markets and distributes its products to have any hope of reaching the bypassed other 90%.
Over the past three years, the revolution in design for the other 90% is rapidly maturing. The Cooper Hewitt traveling exhibit, Design for the Other 90%, http://www.designother90.org/cities/visit was followed byDesign With the Other 90%,http://www.designother90.org/cities/home and several parallel exhibits sprang up in other countries. Design Revolution (D-Rev), http://d-rev.org/ the non profit I founded three years ago, has become a respected incubator of radically affordable biomedical tools like the $75 ReMotion artificial knee and Brilliance, a $400 photo therapy device for infants with neonatal jaundice. DR-100, which stands for Design Revolution 100, was launched last summer at Colorado State University. DR-100 has the mission of graduating 3,000 students each year in universities all over the world that have practical hands on experience in radically affordable design for the village.
In the last three months, we’ve made a lot of progress in fomenting the revolution in big business. My contention is that most multinationals will face the same fate General Motors did three years ago, if they don’t learn quickly how to operate profitably at scale in emerging markets. Over the past three years, my partners and I have launched what I expect to become three profitable global businesses. Each of these businesses is designed to reach at least 100 million customers who live on less than $2 a day, generate global sales of at least $10 billion, and earn attractive bottom line profits.
Windhorse International, and its Indian counterpart, Spring Health, is designed to sell safe drinking water to at least 100 million customers in small villages who live on less than $2 a day. Spring Health is just now completing its beta test in 25 villages in Odisha, Eastern India, delivering 10 liters of water in aspirationally designed jerry cans at a price of 4 cents (US) at our partner village shops, or 6 cents per 10 liter jerry can delivered to customer’s homes by cycle trolley. We have learned that 60% of our customers prefer home delivery at the higher price, and we are in the process of raising $2 million in investment capital to finance our ambitious roll out plan in Eastern India, describes how we plan to bring safe water to 10,000 villages in India within three years, and become profitable at the end of the third year.
We have also launched two transformative energy companies. The first will lower the cost of 200 watt to 2,000 watt village Photovoltaic energy by 40%, and deliver it to 100 million $2/day customers through our village energy shop partners, following a parallel kirana shop model to the one used already by Spring Health. The second will implement a last mile collection strategy for waste biomass, and convert it to a low-carbon emission substitute for coal and charcoal through a process called torrefaction. We are designing $10,000 village based torrefaction plants, each capable of producing 6-7 tons of terrified briquettes worth $150 a ton. The two energy companies are at an earlier stage of development, but we have made rapid progress in designing the radically affordable technology required to reach our objectives for each company, and are ready to launch beta tests for both companies this fall. More information on all three companies is available at Huffington Post, CBS Interactive, and Outlook Business India .
I’m happy to report that I’ve also started on a second book, provisionally titled “The Business Solution to Poverty”, with my co author, Mal Warwick, who has written 19 books already!
Life now is very exciting for me- I’m eagerly looking forward to the next year!


Paul Polak

This is an amazing and highly inspirational story/experience.

In November ,2012 me and my colleague Dr Sabat have published a book entitled "Indigenous People and Entrepreneurship in Kandhamal". The district of Kandhamal in the Indian state of Odisha is the land of Tribals. The indigenous tribes,who are living in the district for ages are the aboriginal people of the place which was once known as Kui Country.With the increase in their population coupled with gradual decrease in the forest cover has come under severe threat. Under these circumstances,the authors have tried to find out how the Common Property Resources(CPRs) which were earlier enjoyed by the indigenous people since ages,can be put to optimum use for sustainable livelihoods of the tribes. The authors have tried to find out ways of making the Tribals,entrepreneurial through cultivation of medicinal and aromatic plants so that their economic conditions improve for, they love their land and forest.

For me 2012 was a year of revelation as to how business is becoming more concerned to fight poverty not just through corporate social responsibility and the philanthropic drive but through realising that sustainable supply chains and inclusive business models are a key part of the equation to bring prosperity to the many rather than the few.

It started with DfID's Business Innovations Facility in Malawi holding a workshop bringing businesses and NGOs together to begin looking at partnering options in support of poorer producers. At this workshop one of the key findings was that both sides were interested and aware of potential partnership but recognized that they both speak different languages and there is more work to do to build trust and understanding. It was very heartening to see progress at a later follow up workshop where both real and potential models for inclusive business were shared and discussed. Thanks Karen Smith and the BIF Malawi team for organising it.

On a more practical note it was working on the early stages of development of an inclusive smallholder supply chain for High Quality Cassava Flour with Universal Industries in Malawi, a model that could provide real opportunity for many smallholders to earn income from a tradtional food crop but also where we need to be very careful to design the production system so that it does not compromise their food security as cassava is the fallback food crop if the maize harvest fails.

I followed VSO Tanzania's partnership with British Gas and Government of Tanzania on supporting skills training for

youth to ensure the right employment opportunities are made available, and the skills needed by the emerging gas industry are sourced locally. I followed development of Ben and Jerry's partnership with VSO Uganda in improving productivity and social outcomes for vanilla farmers in the Ruwenzori. I also checked in on VSO Ghana's part in the erstwhile Cadbury Cocoa Partnership - now part of a much bigger movement to build equitable and sustainable supply chains in the cocoa industry worldwide.

It was also exciting to finish the year at the Capturing the Gains summit in Cape Town led by the amazing efforts of Stephanie Barrientos with the energy (and financial support) of Rory Brooks and share in all the informal discussions around where the real gain or value addition lies and where the pitfalls are, as ably summed up by Raphie Kaplinsky. Especially good to discuss with SAB Miller about their current thinking on models for casava supply chains to the brewing industry.

Looking forward to taking much of this forward in 2013!