Design Expo 2014: Online Discussion - Building Livelihoods

This online panel discussion at 3.30 UK time on Thursday 12 June will explore the following questions:

  1. What are some of the most innovative models that are having a real impact on the livelihoods of people at the BoP?
  2. What are the some of the key challenges facing innovators when designing products, services and business models for the rural and urban poor?
  3. How important is gender in the success or otherwise of some of the marketing and distribution models?

Panelists include: Stephanie Hanson, One Acre Fund; Sampath Selvan, MKrishi; Keith Teichmann, Xylem; KC Mishra, eKutir; Alexa Roscoe, CARE International; Deborah Tien, AISE; Morgane Danielou, Farming First; Vincent Gainey, DFID.

Editor's Note:

This is a text-only, written discussion.  To post comments you will need to sign in / sign up to Business Fights Poverty. A list of recent comments is shown in the right-hand side bar and will refresh every 5 minutes. To refresh more often, please click on the refresh icon in your browser.

This event is part of the Business Fights Poverty Design Expo 2014. Running from 9 to 13 June,  the Design Expo is an online celebration of products, services and business models transforming the lives of poor people.  The Design Expo is a collaboration with iDE UK and is being supported by the UK's Department for International Development.

The Expo will include a vibrant mix of blogs, Google Hangouts, online panel discussions, a Twitter Jam and a virtual exhibition zone. Each day we will focus on a different sector: Energy (9 June), Health (10 June), Communications (11 June), Livelihoods (including enterprise, finance and agriculture) (12 June) and Water & Sanitation (13 June).

From Monday 9 June, you will be able to access all the activities via the Design Expo landing page,  Participation in the Design Expo is free.  You will simply need to sign in (or sign up for free) to Business Fights Poverty.


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Welcome to this online discussion about building livelihoods. We've got a great panel lined up.

This is text-only discussion, so please do go ahead and post your comments and questions below (you'll need to sign in to do that).

Hi everyone,   My name is Alexa Roscoe and I am a Private Sector Advisor at CARE International. My team partners with companies to develop product and services which help end poverty and empower women.  We work with companies like Mondalez, Barclays, GSK and Uniliver in over 87 countries world-wide. You can read my work on BOP business service on the CARE blog or follow me at on Twitter @AlexaRoscoe.

Hello, I'm Vincent Gainey. I work with the UK Department for International Development (DFID) as a Livelihoods Advisor. I'd like to kick off a discussion by asking whether participants feel that the cooperative model provides the best option for integrating poor smallholder producers most effectively in business and supply chains?

Dear all,

Great to be part of the panel today. I'm Morgane Danielou. I represent the Farming First coalition. We are an network of 130 organizations representing the world’s farmers, scientists, engineers and industry as well as agricultural development organisations. You can view our membership here:

With one shared voice, Farming First highlights the importance of improving farmers’ livelihoods and agriculture’s potential contribution to global issues such as food security, climate change, and biodiversity.

Hello everyone. My name is Stephanie Hanson and I am the senior vice president of policy and partnerships at One Acre Fund. One Acre Fund is an agriculture organization that offers 180,000 smallholder farmers in East Africa the seed and fertilizer, financing, training, and market education that they need to significantly increase their agriculture productivity and incomes. We are a nonprofit, but we operate like a business, and believe in using business principles to serve farmers at the bottom of the pyramid.

Ok - let's kick off with the first question...

Q1: What are some of the most innovative models that are having a real impact on the livelihoods of people at the BoP?

Hi Vincent,  great question.  CARE works with cooperatives in dozens of countries world-wide, and often we find that there are as many challenges as opportunities.  On the one hand, cooperatives offer a way to make value chains more inclusive and to shift market power to the BOP. On the other hand, cooperative dynamics are generally a reflection of the broader social environment, which is to say they often exclude women or are subject to corruption or capture by elites. 

In short,  I'd say cooperatives can be a great way to improve livelihood opportunities, but we should never underestimate how much time, effort (or funds!) it takes to do it right. 

Hie every one 

My name is Crispim Munda I work for a DAI ( project in northern Mozambique that is a private sector lead development project.

Micro-franchises are a hugely undervalued tool for improving livelihoods at the BOP.   Development people work a lot with micro-entrepreneurs, but this approach is hard to scale as it relies on working with individuals and often has huge quality control issues. Micro-franchising offers quality control plus economies of scale you just can’t get otherwise. Think MacDonald’s but with greater social impact.

One example of a micro-franchise is the CARE-run social enterprise Krishi Utsho in Bangladesh.   Krishi Utsho improves the livelihoods of rural farmers by bringing them the products they need (like feed and fertilizer), in the right amounts, right to their doorsteps.  

Most of all, it offers quality control that is lacking in rural Bangladesh.  The current Krishi Utsho network 20+ stores with plans to grow to 70 by 2015. 

I'd like to suggest:

Moving from food aid to cash transfers and resilience based programming.

Recognising that for many the future is not going to be based on rural agricultural livelihoods but urban and/or non-agricultural livelihoods and supporting this trend, not seeing it as a threat.

The private sector recognising the commercial and business potential of the BoP and engaging with them more effectively especially through co-ops and associations.

Hello hello! My name is Deborah Tien, and I am the Director of Development of AISE Tanzania. We are building and supporting an innovation & entrepreneurial ecosystem in Arusha, Tanzania and its surrounding communities by encouraging co-creation, creativity, and collaboration. We are a young organization, so I'm very excited to learn more from this panel!

Hi, I am Sampath Selvan working with TATA Consultancy Services.   I am representing the model PRIDE™ which Progressive Rural Integrated Digital Enterprise powered by TCS mKRISHI® platform.

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