Business Innovation Facility (BIF)
The Business Innovation Facility (BIF) helps the development and uptake of inclusive business models by companies in developing countries. The term ‘inclusive business’ refers to profitable core business activity that has high development impacts; creating jobs, integrating local farmers and entrepreneurs in international supply chains and providing quality and affordable services to low-income consumers.
The facility provides advisory support and facilitation. It supports companies that are developing inclusive business projects in Bangladesh, India, Malawi, Nigeria, and Zambia. In these 5 countries the facility helps companies directly by facilitating the process of developing inclusive business, brokering partnerships, signposting to other sources of support, and/or sharing the cost of consultancy support.
It also offers information exchange and insight. To help practitioners of inclusive business in any country, the BIF Practitioner Hub provides a gateway to the latest information, insights from peers, good practice, useful resources, and lessons learnt about developing and implementing inclusive business.
The BIF is funded by the Department for International Development and was designed as a 3-year project (2010 to 2013) to pilot this new approach to supporting the role of business in the development of low-income countries.
Eligibility to apply or access support and advice
There is an initial engagement between representatives of interested companies and the facility team to determine whether the company has an inclusive business project that may require support from the facility.
Once this has been established, the facility supports the company to identify internal or external constraints and provides information to the company on sources of help. This may include support from the facility or sign-posting to other sources of support beyond what is available from the facility. The facility offers consultancy support for business planning, value chain mapping etc and brokering and strengthening of partnerships.
A company will have to pay towards this consultancy support, but the facility can share the costs. Cost-sharing from facility funds will require a proposal to be prepared for the facility’s selection committee. The committee, which meets every 2 months, will recommend support to inclusive business projects that best meet the facility’s criteria for support, which include the financial viability and the development impacts of the initiative. The company will have a major role in deciding on the providers of the consultancy support, as well as the exact nature of the support.