As the Inclusive Business Accelerator (IBA), we have been active now for 2 years in developing our online platform IBA.ventures. By doing so, we have had the opportunity to investigate what entrepreneurs value and how we can best respond to their needs online. It also gave us the opportunity to find our space and partners among other online actors that complement our offering so there is a return from experience here!
Overall, we see three main benefits of online platforms in the IB space.
The inclusive business space is still a very exploratory and fragmented industry. Several platforms have taken on this challenge to create knowledge portals with best practices and to feature the latest insights from inclusive business development via webinars or special monthly featuring. The Practitioner Hub or Business Fights Poverty with its section on IB are doing this extremely well. This is key to creating central windows for industry practices and highlights the successes and failures of inclusive businesses.
Besides knowledge, actors (be it ventures, IB consultants or investors) are also not always well connected. Dynamic and vibrant IB communities are created online. This is the core of what IBA.ventures is doing: connecting valuable business opportunities or ventures with the right parties. These can be an investor looking to impact investing or a consultant supporting marketing strategy development or pitch building.
Following the rise of massive online open course or MOOC, several platforms also propose bootcamps or courses to capacitate IB professionals. Topics range from “business model innovation” to “leadership” or “marketing to the BoP”. IBA.ventures via its academy, Acumen+ or IBtrainer have been developing such programmes usually over several weeks with online and offline interaction.
“The ‘Market Research’ bootcamp offered an opportunity to get expert feedback on our business model, process design and market positioning. There is really nothing more refreshing and invaluable than getting perfectly tailored support for scaling an inclusive business. We have redesigned our marketing channels in a capital-efficient way following the ATEAR model and insights experts shared during the bootcamp.” Article
Overall, a number of online platforms are out there, often supported heavily by donations or public authorities as revenue-generation remains limited from direct users of these platforms. This is a key point that will “force” a consolidation in these online developments. So we do expect strong leaders to emerge in these three categories (knowledge access, incubation matchmaking, and capacity development), allowing donations and public funding to be channeled through fewer organisations.