Business Fights Poverty (BFP): What do you do?
AR: I work at Endeva, where our aim is to further inclusive business through research, knowledge transfer, and consulting. We also help other actors, like donors or governments, understand how they can best support companies working in inclusive business. I have been with Endeva since 2011, and have worked on a variety of projects – for example, GIZ’s BoP Sector Dialogue reports on energy, pharmaceuticals, and agribusiness, a survey of the status of inclusive business in sub-Saharan Africa for UNDP AFIM, and various workshops and other events.
BFP: What is the best part about your job?
AR: The best part of my job is learning about and enabling business models that are actively driving development in emerging and developing markets. I enjoy interacting with companies directly. Seeing research become reality – through consulting entrepreneurs on how to create or improve their inclusive business model or hearing feedback on how a report or webinar we hosted has been useful in their ventures – is incredibly rewarding.
Working on a variety of projects is also a fantastic part of my work. For example, we are currently researching the replication of inclusive business models, have recently released a whitepaper on private schooling in the developing world, and are gearing up for our first Inclusive Business eLab with the BoP Learning Labs, WBCSD, and Business Fights Poverty. This diversity in subject matter and ways of reaching our target groups means my work is exciting and intellectually stimulating.
BFP: What has been your greatest challenge?
AR: There are a lot of challenges in inclusive business, but the one that is currently on my mind is the fact that a lot of these models remain small. About a decade after the notion of inclusive business began to take off, we’re seeing definite success stories. Now it’s time to get a grasp on what works and replicate it. Difficulties in scaling and replicating are limiting inclusive business from reaching its full potential.
BFP: How have you overcome these challenges?
AR: Planning, partnering, and sharing are important. I’ve been part of a team at Endeva who has been studying the replication topic for over a year now, with outputs being a toolbox for businesses detailing various replication strategies they can consider, and an upcoming report with BMZ on how development partners can best support replicating businesses. We identified 3 major factors that are hindering replication for businesses – lack of appropriate finance, lack of necessary information and knowledge, and difficulty finding the right partners and HR. Our recommendations include innovative financial products that reduce risk for investors, supporting the dissemination of successful models, and training second movers.
Endeva continuously leverages knowledge transfer to share cutting-edge research in our field through our reports, consulting, and other ventures. For example, the upcoming Inclusive Business eLab is a good way for businesses to get an intensive introduction to inclusive business models. They can dive into ‘our’ world with access to experts and the latest knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. Part of that initiative includes the opportunity to get one-on-one coaching from experts from Endeva and our partners to kick-start their model following the course.
BFP: If someone wants to do what you do – where do they start?
AR: I learned about Endeva through my Masters program. I was doing an M.A. in Economics when Christina Gradl, one of the company’s co-founders, was brought in as a guest lecturer for a Development Economics seminar. She presented Endeva’s work in microinsurance with Allianz, and the business-based approach to fighting poverty resonated with me.
Higher education opens a lot of doors – as well as pursuing interesting opportunities as they come by. People like it when others are genuinely interested in their work – I really enjoy conversation with people in my field, whether at events, online, or in a seminar hall, and it often happens that we have common areas of interest or can even collaborate on a project. Networking and an open attitude can lead to great partnerships!
BFP: Finally, What do you hope to get out of being part of the BFP community?
AR: I am looking forward to being an active part of the ever-growing inclusive business community. BFP offers a great opportunity to connect to people no matter where they are, allowing them to create networks and work as part of a larger ecosystem. I’m looking forward to new connections and working together with the community!