The implementation of activities is gathering momentum for the DFID-funded Business Innovation Facility (BIF2). This project follows-on from the first Business Innovation Facility (BIF1) which ran from 2010 – 2013 and provided practical, hands-on advice and technical expertise to support companies to develop or scale up inclusive business models, with Imani Development serving as country manager for Malawi and Zambia.
BIF2 is being implemented in Malawi (with Imani resuming its role as country manager), Myanmar and Nigeria, and builds on lessons learnt from it’s predecessor. BIF2 employs a ‘Market Systems Approach’ (aiming for large scale, sustainable impact by focusing on catalysing change in overall markets rather than targeting individuals within that market) and expects that it’s activities on the ground will contribute to achieving the goal of reducing poverty by changing the way that markets work for the poor. Thus, BIF2 aims to facilitate commercially sustainable innovations that have the potential to address a root cause to a constraint that is preventing the poor from benefiting as much as they could from the market and will also result in a change in the market system which enables the poor to benefit as producers, consumers or employees
The main mechanism for facilitating change is through delivery of technical assistance to selected service recipients who wish to invest in business innovation. In Malawi, the programme will operate for five years, initially in the selected markets of pico solar products, pigeon peas and rice, ending early 2019. These markets were selected based upon their potential to grow, their relevance to the poor, and careful assessment of where BIF2 could have the greatest impact. After an inception period during which extensive market analysis was conducted, strategies developed and implementation management plans prepared, exciting results are anticipated.