Fostering food innovation
Innovative food products play a fundamental role in supporting our growing global population. And SMEs often play an even bigger role for low-income markets. Through this global initiative, and by leveraging digital technology, Bopinc helped to convert promising, nutrition-focused SMEs, from Africa and Asia, into investor-ready business opportunities.
The pitch competition winner, Baby Grubz from Nigeria, who produces locally-sourced, natural baby cereal, not only won the 20,000 USD prize money, but will also benefit from a Bopinc mentorship package, focusing on business digitisation. To meet the finalists and learn more, check out the competition site.
Partners: Gain, SUN Business Network
Opportunities in remote consumer engagement
Early on during the pandemic, Bopinc experimented with new ways to collect consumer insights remotely. Through the use of simple and affordable technology, as first explored during a project with Lift Path in Myanmar. During our online workshop in April, we shared our learnings with interested entrepreneurs and SMEs. We not only shared these insights, we also inspired new ideas, through our interactive breakout sessions.
Partners: LIFT, PATH, BKM, Terres des Hommes
Focus on inclusive business
Inclusive business can develop meaningful responses to the challenges of Covid-19. In partnership with the DaNa Facility, we led a comprehensive awareness and capacity building program for Myanmar business and government. The program included an online bootcamp on inclusive business (IB), several on- and offline workshops and technical assistance to (potential) inclusive businesses in Myanmar. These engaging and novel sessions guided the participants in developing IB models to reach and benefit low-income consumers.
In addition to sharing IB insights, the participants pitched their practical business ideas to a panel of judges. With further support provided to selected companies, to expand their models and explore potential partnerships. We also supported the Myanmar government, in developing their roadmap for IB policy, with the aim of encouraging and enabling more inclusive business activity in Myanmar.
Partner: The DaNa Facility
New income for rural women in Pakistan
Pakistani women are at an undeniable disadvantage. Although they constitute 49% of Pakistan’s population, they only make up 24% of the labour force. Alongside our partners, we aim to improve this by creating decent employment and income for 3,000 low-income women, whilst expanding financial inclusion of women across the country.
This year 1,320 women were trained to be ‘JazzCash GuddiBajis’, selling a basket of Unilever products and JazzCash financial services. The women have been generating additional income, helping to offset rising unemployment of Pakistani men. Even during the Covid-19 lockdown, JazzCash GuddiBaji’s have been able to sell and distribute hygiene products, such as soap and sanitiser, helping to reduce the spread of the virus in these communities.
Partners: DANIDA, Unilever, JazzCash, RSPN
Digital marketing of nutritious food
Emerging digital channels in low-income markets help us engage consumers in a more cost-effective way. As part of the 2SCALE program, we piloted a campaign to test more longer term consumer engagement with Mhogo Foods, a cassava flour processor based in Nairobi.
We looked at free Wi-Fi service on local buses, as well as digital loyalty programs set up through WhatsApp and Facebook. This innovation pilot established that there’s an untapped opportunity in leveraging digital strategies in marketing to low-income consumers. Providing a promising course of action for future marketing campaigns.
For more insights, click here.
Partners: IFDC, SNV, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Applying our inclusive innovation tools
One of the workshop participants reflected on the value for them: ”… the Bopinc inclusive innovation workshop came at the right time during our grant period. The approach used to understand the customer better, before packaging products for sale, is something we will borrow to strengthen our curriculum. Giving our clients a higher chance of success.” – Thabiso Mashaba, from These Hands GSSE and the IDIN-SADC Consortium.
Partners: Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, VC4A
Making last-mile distribution more resilient
In response to the impact of Covid-19 on Nigeria’s economy, D2D-Pro implemented a series of interventions to ensure that agents and shopkeepers safely remained open. Not only for the survival of their business, but also to continue the supply of beneficial solar and financial products.
Along with these safety guidelines, our team created short video ads, and trained agents on how best to distribute this content via social media, such as WhatsApp and Facebook. These initiatives resulted in a sustained demand of products, without needing to go door-to-door, to promote and distribute them.
Partners: DFID, Greenlight Planet, Transform, Unilever
Reducing waste in cashew nut value chains
Cashew nuts are the second-most valuable export product in Benin. An often forgotten part of this valuable crop is the cashew apple. Tonnes of this nutritious fruit is discarded as waste, every year during harvest. Together with Beninese processors, Bopinc is exploring the possibility of valorising cashew apple products such as juice, dried apple, syrup and bio-compost. We helped two processors to prototype and test syrup and compost, with promising user feedback from both farmers and consumers.
In January 2021, new batches of compost and syrup will be produced by various processors. We plan to supply cashew nut farmers with compost made from their own cashew apples. This would create a local, circular system, which not only generates extra revenue for the processors by selling bio-compost to smallholder farmers, but also replaces chemical fertiliser they currently use.
Bopinc together in Dhaka
During the week, we also hosted a gala dinner with many of our Bopinc partners where we were welcomed by the Dutch Ambassador to Bangladesh, Harry Verweij. The team concluded the week with an innovation challenge, where we applied our own Bopinc tools, developed and pitched real-life initiatives – and eventually awarded the most promising proposition with 5,000 euros kickstarter funding.
Affordable dairy distribution in Bangladesh
Our ambitions are big. With our partners, including Arla Foods, we are implementing a bold new model for women’s economic empowerment in Bangladesh. Not only are we looking to distribute affordable and nutritious dairy products to low-income communities, we are also help creating decent jobs and income opportunities for 5,000 female entrepreneurs.
With an even bigger goal of reaching 20,000 women by 2030. Click here for more on this promising new initiative.
Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Elevating a new financial inclusion platform
One such innovator is Emmanuel Emodek, the founder and Managing Director of Chap-Chap – a digital platform that helps small businesses balance the books and keep track of transactions all from their very own smartphone. We gave Emmanuel technical advice and training on improving business processes, customer mapping and retention. We were also delighted to then see him win the 2019 HRH The Prince of Wales Young Sustainability Entrepreneurs Prize.
Partners: Sida, SNV and Inclusive Business Sweden
Supporting innovation ecosystems
Digital innovation has the potential to remove many of the barriers that stand between people and opportunity, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable. As an implementation partner of the Southern Africa Innovation Support (SAIS) a four-year program funded by Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we play a key role in supporting the growth of new enterprises through knowledge, networking and stronger innovation ecosystems in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
In this role, we implemented a training program on inclusive innovation for innovation intermediaries and the startups they serve. Together we developed feasible plans and adoption of a digital proposition to the low-income populations in the region. By the end of the year, we had supported 20 innovation support organisations and their entrepreneurs on Inclusive Innovation. In addition to training over 300 individuals through our online course on inclusive innovation.
Partners: Finland Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Women entrepreneurship in the Asia-Pacific region
Out of an extensive co-creation process kickstarted in 2019, came the design of two toolkits that include seven practical tools for accelerators and entrepreneurs to become more gender-inclusive. Covering topics such as, access to finance, dealing with gender stereotypes, ensuring a gender-smart network and becoming a gender equality ambassador. Through this, the Entrepreneurship Accelerator aims to mobilise 7,000 women entrepreneurs in the Asia-Pacific region, to strengthen their business and develop them to become investable enterprises.
Partners: WeEmpowerAsia, UN Women
Advancing climate smart technology in agriculture
We play a core implementation role for 2SCALE, one of the largest inclusive agribusiness incubators in Africa. 2SCALE strengthens the capacity of smallholder farmers and MSMEs to accelerate value-chain and private sector development – through innovation and coordinated action. With the objective of promoting, facilitating and increasing the adoption of sustainable innovations among agrifood value chain actors in 2SCALE partnerships.
We rolled out the first digital innovation challenge in 2019. The challenge invited entrepreneurs, startups and SMEs that developed digital innovations (such as hyperlocal weather forecasting, mobile finance and traceability solutions) and are interested in scaling them. This was a unique opportunity for these entrepreneurs to reach 750,000 farmers. Almost 200 applicants were received. In 2020, the selected climate smart innovations will be matched with the 2SCALE partnerships in order to start implementation!
For more on the innovation challenge, click here.
Partners: IFDC, SNV, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Replicating successful sales models
Women entrepreneurs play a vital role in boosting economic productivity and growth in emerging economies. Therefore, women must be included as viable and trusted economic actors in the agrifood, WASH and renewable energy value chains. Door-to-Door Pro (D2D Pro) is an innovative, last-mile marketing and distribution pilot that aims to increase the income of door-to-door female sales agents in Nigeria – through the introduction of impact durables, such as solar lamps, to the agents’ current basket of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG). The lamps are equipped with pay-as-you-go solutions for low-income consumers.
Based on the initial success of the first phase of D2D Pro, we proved the efficacy of our concept, developed a thriving network in Osun and successfully replicated the model in another state in Nigeria. In 2020 we plan to institute access to digital loans for sales agents, to purchase stock of solar lights and FMCG products.
Partners: DFID, Greenlight Planet Transform, Unilever
Creating peer networks of women entrepreneurs
In addition to our core 2SCALE role of developing and implementing BoP marketing strategies with African food companies, we pay specific attention to fostering and supporting the growth of women entrepreneurship within the program.
First implemented in Ghana, Aya is a six-month entrepreneurship track for women in agribusiness in Africa that builds on the experiences of the 2SCALE program. Building on its previous success, in 2019 Aya was extended to Ethiopia and Burkina Faso. The initiative includes three key phases, providing inspiration, training and connection, leading to improved and professionalised business models of women agri-entrepreneurs.
[Note: In 2020, we created the Aya Toolkit and have commenced rolling this out across the Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mali and Nigeria].
Click here for more on the 2SCALE program.
Partners: IFDC, SNV, Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs Netherlands.
Shining a light on the last-mile
We recognise the critical role last-mile distributors (LMDs) play in ensuring the availability and affordability of products to low-income consumers. Products that can be life-changing, such as solar lights, clean cookstoves, water filters and nutritious food. As a partner of the Global Distributors Collective, we represent and support dozens of LMDs.
Alongside Hystra and Practical Action, we delivered the: Last-Mile Distribution: State of the Sector report. This ground-breaking research highlighted the challenges and opportunities for the sector, the key needs of these distributors. How essential these companies are, in generating demand, and in some cases helping consumers to build a credit history. Distributors can even create new markets, enabling other companies to step in, to sustainably serve last-mile consumers.
Partners: Hystra, Practial Action