The IBA approach: Connecting ventures to expertise and capital

Niek van Dijk
By on January 19, 2016

When you are interested in successfully growing businesses in Base of the Pyramid markets, the Inclusive Business Accelerator (IBA) is the place to be. The IB Accelerator is designed as a one-stop-shop for entrepreneurs to innovate, grow, replicate and improve their ventures in low-income markets, and eventually preparing these ventures to connect with finance needed to scale up.

Inclusive Business
We define an inclusive business as a business initiative that incorporates people at the low-income segment of society into the ventures’ core processes, typically through one or more of the following four roles: producers, employees, distributors and of course consumers. With the IB Accelerator we focus on three key sectors: agribusiness, renewable energy and WASH.

The IB Accelerator, an initiative of BoPInc, SNV, VC4Africa and Nyenrode Business University, started in 2014 with funding from the Dutch government, provides a global network of inclusive business expert organizations that provide access to market intelligence and advisory standards.The ultimate objective is to reveal opportunities through market insights, develop standardized IB advisory services and promote investments in inclusive business to mainstream business to achieve the best results in improving living conditions for people living at the BoP.

Toolkits for BDS providers
In 2015, together with partner organizations such as SEED, Scope Insight and Stand-By, we have developed an Inclusive Business Toolkit. The tools, used by local, independent BDS consultants after they are trained by IBA, provide support to inclusive business ventures at three levels: 1) to strengthen their position in the market 2) making the organization future proof 3) help finding access to capital investments. In 2016 we will launch the second toolkit, focused on ‘Inclusive Innovation’, which can be used to further develop a business model for innovations that are meant to be introduced in low-income markets.

Also, we are working on a system of certification and accreditation, where trained BDS consultants will receive certification that they are trained by IBA, and are certified experts on inclusive business. We are currently discussing with several European donors to set a standard for services in inclusive business, which will be acknowledged by them in their funding processes.

supermom guts agro

A Guts Agro sales lady using a bicycle cart to sell the Supermom products in Ethiopia.

Local IBA hubs
On a local level, the IBA hubs in Vietnam, Mozambique and Uganda train local business development service (BDS) providers to support the identification, incubation and acceleration of new business initiatives. For instance, in Vietnam, the local IBA hub has supported the Vietnam Business Challenge Fund in positioning its grantees towards impact investors such as Unitus Impact and Lotus Fund.

The local platforms apply the IBA Inclusive Business advisory toolkit and we are continuously looking for, and discussing with, new partners to expand the network to include countries with considerable Base of the Pyramid market potential, such as Ghana, Ethiopia and Bangladesh.

Online matchmaking marketplace
With IBA Online, we provide an online environment to ventures, investors and business mentors. This open platform connects ventures that are looking for funding with impact investors. Since the launch in the last months of 2014 we have seen more than 1700 members from all over the globe sign up to the platform, and they registered 170 IB ventures so far, of which 47 are actively looking for an investment.

IB Academy
In addition, the online platform provides free online courses through the IB Academy that further capacitate inclusive business ventures in key business processes. In 2015 we have organized 3 bootcamps on ‘Marketing and Distribution to the BoP’, ‘Pitching to investors’, and (in collaboration with the Siemens Stiftung and Endeva) on ‘Improve your sales strategy through data’. In total we saw over 400 participants joining the bootcamps in 2015, and we received a lot of positive feedback from entrepreneurs that participated in the bootcamps. As one of the participants of the Pitching bootcamp described ““I enjoyed the online course and found the ‘Pitch canvas’ a very useful tool. I don’t think I would have been able to write the 500 word pitch without it.”

Showcasing of ventures
In 2015 we’ve partnered with SEED to showcase ventures online who have received the SEED Awards in previous years in their search for funding. We also partnered with the Vietnam Business Challenge Fund and 2SCALE to promote the companies from their portfolios. This resulted in the interest of 5 impact investors that are currently doing due diligence on 6 ventures that are registered on, which will likely lead to successful investments in 2016!


Are you interested to work with the IB Accelerator, for instance as a BDS provider using the toolkits, to make use the platform to showcase ventures from your portfolio, to start a new local IBA hub or to sponsor an online bootcamp about a specific topic? Contact Bertil van Vugt via or Niek van Dijk via