Last week I was at the SANKALP Global Summit, one of the leading international conferences on Inclusive Business. Inclusive business is running through India’s veins. That is what became clear to me.
A 2013 Intellecap study found that there are over 2000 inclusive businesses active in India, of which 220 raised over $1,6 billion in risk capital, showing the potential to scale. Also, an ecosystem has emerged where organizations such as Villgro, Intellecap and Startup Oasis but also corporate foundations such as the ones of SELCO and Marico support inclusive business to reach the next stage.
Not surprisingly, ‘South-South’ cooperation was one of the major themes: how can African countries learn from what is happening in India?
An interesting example is the cooperation between the Indian research organization Sristi, the Kenyan Jomo Kenyatta University, the Indian company Tata Agrico and USAID. In this project, small-scale innovations in agriculture mechanization are transferred from India to Kenya. Another example is Greenlight Planet showing how to successfully replicate an inclusive business from India to Africa.
At the institutional level, Villgro, which incubates and invests in early-stage, high-impact ventures, has recently started a hub in Kenya, and the lead organizer of SANKALP, Intellecap, organized the first SANKALP Africa summit in Kenya this year.
Research can provide additional insights into the inclusive business connections between India and Africa. For example, IFC and Intellecap jointly launched a report on the replicability of successful Indian inclusive business practices. The report ‘Corridors for shared prosperity’ outlines a framework for systematic transfer to the African context.
Having said all this, I was slightly disappointed by the actual ‘global’ nature of the SANKALP Global Summit, and by the limited number of African companies present. So far, there are not yet any direct flights between Delhi and Nairobi, so perhaps I could have known.
It seems there is room for improvements in mutual learning and cooperation between Indian and African inclusive businesses. The Inclusive Business Accelerator (http://IBA.ventures) offers an online market place where this exchange can materialize, and we encourage organizations such as Villgro and Intellecap to join us to make this happen!