Diana Hollmann

Friday Roundup ? 1/5/11: Bye Bye 2010, Hello 2011! New Start Also for Endeva

The turn of the year always gives good reason to reflect about the past. NextBillion’s staff writers and editors summarized what they found to be the most impactful concepts, startups or initiatives of 2010 in the Best Ideas 2010 series.

The turn of the year also prompts us to think about what is to come. An organization that looks ahead and starts anew this year – at least in terms of its name – is Endeva, which grew out of the Emergia Institute. The Berlin-based research and consulting institute has produced several interesting reports and guides for the development through enterprise space that you should make sure to check out! Just a few weeks ago, Endeva published the Inclusive Business Guide – How to Develop Business and Fight Poverty. The guide was made available in German first (see this earlier NextBillion post) and has now been updated and translated into English.

I had the chance to talk to Christina Gradl, who co-heads Endeva, about starting anew and her expectations and plans for 2011 and beyond.

Diana Hollmann, NextBillion: Please tell us what Endeva is all about? How would you describe your work and the impact you aim to achieve?

Christina Gradl, Endeva: We work to build, share and apply enterprise solutions for development. To achieve that, we always work very closely with partner organizations from all backgrounds, development agencies like GTZ (now GIZ), UNDP or UNEP, companies like Allianz or Eon, foundations like the Bertelsmann Stiftung, universities from various countries and the other BoP Learning Labs. As an independent institute, our contribution lies in generating knowledge that will help make inclusive business models more sustainable and successful. We try to make this knowledge as widely and easily available as possible.

NB: How come Emergia turns into Endeva? What will change and what will stay the same? Do you have resolutions for the New Year or the new organization?

Christina: Endeva follows the same objectives as Emergia did – finding enterprise solutions for development challenges. But after three years of building Emergia, Aline Krämer – co-director and co-founder – and I have a much more precise vision of the kind of projects we want to pursue and how we want to pursue them. We parted ways with the third co-founder of Emergia, who now pursues her academic career. That gave us the opportunity to start afresh and realize this vision even better. One important aspect for us is how we want to work with our people and partners, in real partnership, very transparent, always trying new things and enjoying what we do. We also tried to define this vision – our values, our objectives – more precisely on our new website. The new year’s resolution for both me and Aline is to finish our PhD thesis, so we can finally dedicate ourselves fully to Endeva.

NB: What do you think will be the major trends in the development through enterprise space in 2011 to watch out for?

Christina: One clear trend is towards more and better professional education, especially for company representatives working in the inclusive business space, but also for those of partner organizations. There are not many good programs yet, but lots of knowledge that is ready to be shared, and more and more demand. One good way to inform, exchange knowledge and find practical solutions might be what we call sector dialogues. Sector dialogues are a new format that introduces company representatives from a certain sector to opportunities around inclusive business via a workshop and an evening event. We just ran an energy sector dialogue. In the workshop, company representatives from the energy sector could test and build their business models with the research-based “Inclusive Energy Business Model Generator.” This format has met with great interest.

With regards to actual on-the-ground work, we might see some more sectors come strong onto the agenda. The pharmaceutical industry and health care in general is my first candidate. Business approaches to education on the primary, secondary and tertiary level will likely also get some more attention, but maybe not this year.

Finally, I believe the role of policy and government will emerge much more strongly on the agenda. It is clear that governments play an enormous role on many levels in enabling (or hindering) inclusive business models, especially in sectors delivering essential goods and services like energy, health or education. But so far, little attention has been paid to this role.

NB: And what is in Endeva’s diary for 2011?

Christina: Our diary has much to do with what we see as trends, which are at the same time gaps in the knowledge landscape. We will continue our excellent collaboration with GIZ on the sector dialogues. The next sector dialogue will be on insurance, and we will probably look into the pharmaceutical sector afterwards.

One of our main goals is bring ecological sustainability and poverty alleviation together. In Brazil, we will conduct research on the consumption habits of low-income household around energy and water. Often, the basic understanding about the needs and preferences of this target group doesn’t exist, and qualitative research like that prepares the ground for better business models.

We will also look more closely into the role of policy for inclusive business. For example, we will try to understand how policies in donor countries can effectively incentivize and support companies to include people in poverty into their value chains.

Another goal is to make it easier for companies to get the information they need to design and develop successful models, even if their resources are limited. We will offer more training programs, including another workshop around the Inclusive Energy Business Model Generator, and possibly some other platform-type formats. Stay tuned!

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