On Thursday evening 2nd February, the Dutch network of AgriProFocus gathered for an informal network meeting with pizzas: PizzaProFocus. The meeting took place at BoP Innovation Center, one of the organizations which had made the proposal to the network to start such informal gatherings to enable people in the network to meet, discuss, get new ideas, and establish new connections.
This time, the theme was Inclusive Business. 3 pitches were done by CBI’s Eva Smulders; ICRA’s Bertil Videt; and BoPInc’s Niek van Dijk. Other participants responded, which gave room for further open questions and exchanges. Some of the key areas of interest from that discussion that I recall:
CBI has developed a new tool, with support of Schuttelaar & Partners, to support SMEs in low- and middle-income countries with an interest to export to Europe, in developing more ‘responsible business’ practices. After the use of this tool, these SMEs will have a ‘corporate social responsibility’ story for their buyers. (more info on this tool will be posted in a separate item)
ICRA described their extensive training portfolio for all actors in the food chain, in which they use inclusive innovation methodologies, in which learning by doing is a key principle.
BoPInc made a clear call that ‘inclusive business’ approaches should integrate the perspective of Bottom of Pyramid consumers too – developing ‘responsible’ products and services means also serving the interest of these consumers – making sure products become available to them which were not available before.
Further discussions concentrated on how organizations in the network and other agrifood stakeholders work with consumers. We also discussed whether ‘corporate social entrepreneurship’ interventions are just window dressing, or really create ‘shared value’ and impact in society; and whether interventions are aimed at stakeholders with better incomes or with the lowest incomes. And we discussed the value of networking and joint learning in this area – according to participants learning should serve the daily practice, and not be an end in itself.
Finally, the group supported the idea of holding a second PizzaProFocus meeting, and keeping it informal again. More information on this online platform soon.