Inclusive business strategies in Africa, from knowledge to action

The Partnerships Resource Centre (PrC) at Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM), co-organised a conference for representatives of businesses, organisations and government bodies in Kenya with the Eastern and Southern African Management Institute (ESAMI) and the Netherlands-African Business Council (NABC). The Inclusive Business Strategies in Africa, From Knowledge to Action conference took place in Nairobi on 22 June 2017.

The main objective of the conference was to share the results of the two-year NWO/WOTRO research project and to discuss how inclusive business strategies can contribute to inclusive development in Sub-Sahara Africa. The results of the project provided starting points for active, practice-driven discussion among participants. Experienced speakers, panellists and researchers from various backgrounds inspired participants to rethink their own business strategies by discussing which challenges and opportunities they face in making inclusive business work. Among them were Alexandra Sindahera of Heineken, Bert Rikken, the agricultural counsellor at the Dutch Embassy in Nairobi, and professors Joseph Mumba (ESAMI) and Rob van Tulder (RSM).

Financial, social and environmental impact

PrC researcher Addisu Lashitew presented his research, which he had conducted with Siri Lijfering, showing that inclusiveness can be seen as an approach from a single to a triple bottom line focusing not only on a financial return on investment but also on creating a positive social and environmental impact. Following the most common strategies businesses employ to become more inclusive he gave examples of innovative and inclusive business projects in East-Africa, like MPesa by Safaricom (Kenya) and SoleRebels, fair trade, eco-friendly footwear (Ethiopia).

Sharing information

In a final panel discussion, challenges and opportunities to inclusive business were identified and discussed. Panellists agreed that sharing information is the key to grow and realise inclusive growth. Kenyan medical entrepreneur Betty Gikonyo said: “Making mistakes is not a problem, but businesses do not want to make mistakes that others have already made. Learning from each other’s experiences, failures, and success is very important.”

This conference concludes PrC’s research project on inclusive business strategies in sub-Saharan Africa. See the Partnerships Resource Centre’s website for more information on the project, related publications and other output.

More information

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) is one of Europe’s top 10 business schools. RSM provides ground-breaking research and education furthering excellence in all aspects of management and is based in the international port city of Rotterdam – a vital nexus of business, logistics and trade. RSM’s primary focus is on developing business leaders with international careers who can become a force for positive change by carrying their innovative mindset into a sustainable future. Our first-class range of bachelor, master, MBA, PhD and executive programmes encourage them to become critical, creative, caring and collaborative thinkers and doers. Study information and activities for future students, executives and alumni are also organised from the RSM office in Chengdu, China.

For more information about RSM or this release, please contact Marianne Schouten, communications manager for RSM, on +31 10 408 2877 or by email at

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