Inclusive Business Strategies in Sub-Saharan Africa

Prof. Rob van Tulder sharing his views at the kick-off event in Arusha, Tanzania.

Inclusive Business Strategies in Sub-Saharan Africa

This action-oriented research programme brings together a large consortium of companies, knowledge institutes, NGOs and government agencies from the Netherlands and six African countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. The research project is run jointly by RSM, the Eastern and Southern Africa Management Institute (ESAMI), and the Netherlands-Africa Business Council (NABC). The core of the research team consists of two post-doctorate researchers: one in the Netherlands (Addisu Lashitew) and one in Kenya (Joy Kiiru).

Dutch firms investing in Africa increasingly seek more inclusive business models to create a positive contribution to inclusive growth and development of the countries they are investing in. An important precondition for this is the presence of elaborate partnerships with non-market actors such as NGOs and national and local governments. But there is, as yet, no systematic research into their effective integration into business to help create a positive relationship between business strategies and inclusive growth at the national level. This project explores the characteristics of inclusive business models and critical factors for effectively implementing them, particularly focusing on the role of partnerships. It uses a number of front-runner Dutch companies and NGOs in six African countries as examples.

As an action research programme, the main goal of the project is to generate actionable knowledge that is shaped and validated by the active involvement of all parties in the consortium. The year 2016 will be devoted to conducting comprehensive research in an action-oriented process that involves participating organisations. This will be done through stakeholder dialogues and meetings in the selected countries to discuss identified issues, seminars and presentations to discuss the results, research reports outlining findings of data collection and analysis efforts and a mid-term report summarising the progress made so far, and reflecting on the way forward.

Lead Consortium partners

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University
The Eastern and Southern African Management Institute
Netherlands-African Business Council


In this project we will work closely with:

  • Philips Medical Systems
  • FMO, the Dutch development bank
  • Rabobank Development
  • PUM Netherlands, an organisation that connects entrepreneurs in developing countries and emerging markets with senior experts from the Netherlands
  • Green Dream Company – specialises in sustainable area development of natural and cultural heritage sites using  tourism
  • International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) Centre for Frugal Innovation
  • BAM International, a subsidiary of Royal BAM Group, one of Europe’s largest contracting companies
  • AMREF Flying Doctors
  • ICCO,  an inter-church organisation for development co-operation
  • New World Campus, a place offering spaces for entrepreneurs, researchers, practitioners and investors to meet and tackle ‘grand’ problems
  • SNV, an international not-for-profit development organisation
  • Bank of Africa
  • Bank of Kigali
  • Inyange Industries, a food processing company in Rwanda
  • Barefoot Power, assisting people in developing countries to access affordable renewable energy
  • WISE Organization for Women in Self Employment, an Ethiopian residents’ charity
  • Cordaid, a development aid foundation in the Netherlands
  • Roskar Travel Limited, based in Nairobi, Kenya
  • Nile Breweries Ltd, Uganda
  • Forum for African Women educationalists (FAWE), a pan-African non-governmental organisation.