This is a ground-breaking DFID programme (launched 2010) to actively identify and support inclusive business project opportunities in five pilot countries. Imani Development is the consortium partner responsible for both Malawi and Zambia, and as Country Managers has identified, and now delivers, the BIF strategy there.  Imani works directly with commercial companies: agro-processors; information and communications technology firms; agricultural estates; utility companies; farmer associations; and community groups and development organisations engaging with the poor.  Many of the business models identified increase smallholder farmer or other SME benefits by integrating them in the ‘last mile’ of supply chains of larger businesses, thus directly encouraging private sector development and pro-poor growth.  Beneficiaries are consumers of goods and services, or producers of goods and services; and many projects focus on climate resilience.  A key principle of such projects is that they can demonstrate wealth creation through an inclusive, commercially viable approach.

Two examples of projects delivered through the Facility

In Malawi, a new commercial processing company, Afri-Nut, was established to process Malawian groundnuts. It is financed and co-owned by shareholders from the commercial and development sectors: the National Association of Smallholder Farmers of Malawi (NASFAM); TWIN; Ex-Agris (a commercial agricultural company with interests in Malawi); Cordaid; and Waterloo Foundation.  Production started in November 2011 and a total of c. 1,000mT of groundnuts was purchased primarily from NASFAM smallholders.  It is estimated that the Afri-Nut company will benefit up to 40,000 smallholder producers in the medium term, but 100,000s of consumers through improved aflatoxin management in the supply chain.  This was achievable only through the principles of inclusive business which combined commercial companies, NGO and  farmer associations in the company share ownership structure.

In Zambia, BIF is supporting iSchool, a project led by Zambian company Africonnect that aims to deliver internet connectivity and online education resources (‘e-learning’) to Zambian schools on a commercial basis through a sustainable and scalable business services model.  The existing business plan was reviewed to raise the required capital for iSchool and financing hardware. The Facility assisted with determining local disposable income and willingness to pay among the target group, and ultimately finding the optimal revenue generating model. iSchool has the potential to be a revolutionising technology-led model for Africa. The Malawi programme has been recognised by DFID as the most successful pilot programme.

Imani’s role as the country manager in each location includes:

  • Strategic development and delivery of the Facility in Malawi and Zambia
  • Working with businesses, NGOs, government and other organisations relevant to specific business models
  • Brokering partnerships and encouraging the participation of businesses, NGOs, government and civil society groups
  • Knowledge exchange
  • Identifying high impact business models deserving technical assistance funding, and
  • Providing specialised assistance to measure impact for businesses and the Facility
  • Improvement of project’s financial modelling and business planning