Posts for Enclude Blog

Posted on December 13, 2016

In the past decade, a wide range of business acceleration models have emerged around the world in both developed countries and increasingly, in developing countries. In their essence, these accelerator programs (APs) are a way to shorten the journey of start-ups, resulting in either quicker growth or quicker failure. More specifically, an accelerator program typically provides short, focused interventions aimed at scaling the most viable start-ups and providing the necessary financial means for growth.

Despite their growing popularity there is little systematized knowledge about the different types of acceleration models and approaches which have emerged. Particularly in emerging countries, the insights into the performance of these programs is limited.

Enclude – in collaboration with Emory University’s Goizueta Business School and the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) – is doing a research project on accelerator programs in several Sub-Saharan African countries, on behalf of the World Bank Group’s infoDev.

Posted on December 12, 2016

DANIDA. Denmark’s development cooperation agency, has a longstanding commitment to the development of the agricultural sector in Burkina Faso, providing support since 1992. Building on this long-term engagement, Enclude is working with DANIDA to unlock economic potential all along the agricultural value chains in Burkina Faso through the implementation of the access to finance component of the Economic Growth in the Agricultural Sector Program (PCESA).

In Burkina Faso, the agricultural sector accounts for 30% of gross domestic product and employs 86% of the population. Agricultural development is thus key to reducing poverty in Burkina Faso – considering that 43.9% of the population lives under the poverty line, with production systems dominated by subsistence farming. Access to credit was identified as a critical barrier at the outset of the PCESA’s predecessor. To address this barrier, the new program included a technical assistance component to two major banks, which Enclude was selected to implement starting in 2014.

Posted on November 02, 2016

Posted by: Enclude


This picture was taken during a training provided by Enclude in Senegal, for the municipality of Saint-Louis, on sustainable municipal waste management. The 2-day training was designed to build the capacity of municipal staff (mayor, civil servants, planners, cleaners and others) and related organisations on waste management and how to make strategic choices about it that are most suitable to the local context. This was a World Bank funded mission, under a larger technical assistance project for the government of Senegal.

Posted on November 01, 2016

Posted by: Kelly Robbins, Special Projects Lead

Enclude is thrilled to be one of the recipients of the 2016 ANDE Catalyst Fund grants!  What are we going to do with it?

With the support of the fund, Enclude will pilot a Gender Benchmarking Tool, designed to empower banks to serve women better through insights from publicly available big data.

The Challenge

Roughly one-third of all small and medium enterprises in developing countries are led by women, yet only 16-18% of SME lending goes to women-led enterprises.  We know that the opportunity to support this growth could be as large as USD 350 billion[1].  Yet strides still need to be made in designing and delivering accessible capital to women entrepreneurs.  Real change for women will not be accomplished by a handful of isolated lending programs.  Banks around the globe need to address a holistic picture of how they work with and for women: designing targeted loan products, confronting gender bias in loan approval, and bundling loans with other products women entrepreneurs need (such as savings and mobile payments).  Even more, banks need to consider how they employ women, how they market to women, and how success with these key clients can be measured in gender-disaggregated data.  Achieving maximum impact in terms of closing the credit gap means grappling with this holistic picture.

The Solution

To address the credit gap challenge, Enclude has developed a standardized Gender Benchmarking Tool that assesses banks’ performance and effectiveness in serving women customers, particularly women entrepreneurs.  The Tool combines a scorecard assessment of quantitative and qualitative performance of the bank, with a graphical analysis of women entrepreneurs’ practices and preferences in the relevant regional and national markets.  The client bank’s scorecard results are benchmarked against the regional realities and competitor performance to deliver clear recommendations for the most effective ways to improve services for women.

The Gender Benchmarking Tool’s specialized software design mines big data to deliver tailored insights banks need to serve women clients well.  This design is responsive to continuous updates of public data, and can fluently drill down by product type or delivery channel within the national or regional market of the client bank.

How will it work to close the credit gap?  For each bank, the assessment delivers:

  1. An accurate overview of the bank’s current levels of gender performance, benchmarked against other financial institutions in the same market
  2. Facilitation of self-defined gender impact goals
  3. An understanding of best practices for serving women clients, and a clear picture of local practices
  4. Recommendations of the most efficient and effective improvements based on the bank’s gender performance, in tailoring marketing, products, delivery channels, and operational practices

We are excited to pursue the pilot of the Gender Benchmarking Tool, with the support of ANDE and our fellow members.  If you are interested in giving input or participating in the pilot, please contact Kelly Robbins at

And finally – congrats to our fellow recipients: Alterna, el Buen Socio and Value for Women, Kiva, and Synergy Social Ventures!

[1] IFC, “Closing the Credit Gap for Formal and Informal Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises”
Posted on October 21, 2016

Posted by: Nimrah Karim, Consultant, Sustainable Business Practices

The story of Reema Naseer’s venture, highlights the encouraging trend of Pakistani women exploring the booming e-commerce industry. Confronted with the classic dilemma of being unable to devote enough time to her family in a challenging corporate job, Reema decided to pursue her own venture in online gifts delivery. She was armed with experience and contacts in a market that she had first-hand exposure to, and ideas that she had been toying with while working in the e-commerce space.

While Reema’s business is still at the early growth stage, her story depicts the challenges of a young business, and can raise a number of interesting discussion points for a session on entrepreneurship education. Reema joined WomenX Cohort 3 and not only benefited from a holistic entrepreneurship training program, but also received unexpected positive affirmation through the WomenX led communications campaign, Women’s INC, which highlighted her business through local coverage of WomenX events in news articles and online media.

For more information about the WomenX program, contact Nimrah Karim, Project Manager, WomenX at

Posted on October 19, 2016

Posted by: Nimrah Karim, Consultant, Sustainable Business Practices

This video is based on a written case study developed by Enclude and the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), “Four Corners Group – Rifat’s Entrepreneurial Temptations.” The case study follows the entrepreneurial journey of WomenX Cohort 2 participant, Rifat Sabzwari, who overcame a series of struggles in her personal and professional life and eventually formed a market research company that is now well recognized in the Pakistani research industry. Today, Four Corners Group (FCG) has offices in Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, and Dubai, with 80+ full-time employees and 200 part-time employees.

FCG has carried out research projects for multinational clients such as Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser, Shan Foods, Continental Biscuit Manufacturer (CBM), Telenor, PepsiCo, and Nestle. Rifat has come a long way, hailing from a family where teaching was the only profession recognized as acceptable for women, to becoming an industry leader in the corporate sector and a role model in her extended family. Rifat’s entrepreneurial journey is replete with lessons in hard work, perseverance, and self-exploration.

For more information about the WomenX program, contact Nimrah Karim, Project Manager, WomenX at

Posted on July 26, 2016

A Collaboration of Hivos, Enclude, and Triodos Investment Management

Posted by: Celine van Soest, Consultant, Inclusive Finance

Smallholder farmers, who run 85 percent of the world’s farms, have a crucial role to play in feeding their communities. Given the widespread poverty in rural areas and the labour intensive nature of agricultural production, growth in agriculture will do more to reduce poverty and hunger than growth in any other sector of the economy. In particular, improving the productivity of small-scale farmers, and connecting them to the markets is thought to have the highest potential for increasing food production and supply. The flow of investment into agriculture – both from private and from public sources – is more generous today than in the past. Still, access to capital and financial services is among the most prominent bottlenecks for small-scale farmers and processors.

There is no doubt that food production, in general, must grow significantly in the next decades. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that a 70 percent rise in agricultural output is needed by 2050. Others state that the global food system is largely sufficient to feed the world’s seven billion people and that agricultural production has always been able to grow along with exponential demographic growth thus far.

However, the success story called “the green revolution” has had its price. Turning more and more land to agricultural uses will have severe environmental consequences, including water shortages, concentration of toxic elements, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, erosion, and more. These negative trends will be aggravated by climate change.

Posted on July 19, 2016

Posted by: Rebecca Marx, Capital Advisory Analyst

When I was 19 the cashier at the Gap told me I would get 20% off my full $60 purchase if I signed up for a Gap credit card. Being a cash-strapped college student, I said, “sure!” and “paid” my $48. Several months later I took notice of an email telling me I still owed $48 plus $80 in late fees. My discounted transaction turned in to a $128 transaction—more than double the initial value. My money-saving scheme had backfired, which was enough for me to swear off having a credit card, at least until I knew I was prepared to stay on top of it and avoid financial decisions that ultimately did not serve my interests.

When I was 24, still scared of credit cards, I moved in to a new apartment and, over the course of a few weeks, paid a security deposit, the first month’s rent, a student loan payment, bought a bed, and purchased a flight for a college reunion leaving me with little money left for the next month’s rent. As a result, I  spent a large portion of my reunion weekend debating when exactly I should mail my rent check to ensure that it would technically be on time but also impossible for my landlord to cash before my next salary installment arrived. In the end, I called my Dad to have him transfer a little “buffer money” that I’d return as soon as my paycheck appeared in my account.

A few similar experiences made me realize it would be helpful to have more tools to manage my cash flow. So, I consulted NerdWallet, a company that offers free, unbiased comparisons of financial products, which I learned about when conducting research for a recent Enclude publication. Once I was informed about my options, I applied for a credit card, signing up to take on the next level of personal financial management.

Posted on July 14, 2016

Posted by: Enclude

The MasterCard Center for Inclusive Growth has invited Enclude CEO Laurie Spengler to contribute the first in a series of blog posts focused on the role of “strivers” in driving sustainable and equitable growth worldwide.

Here is a teaser on how the #ConnectStrivers initiative addresses #inclusivefinance.

The challenge of bridging the global income gap has increasingly become a topic of robust debate – from economists (Piketty) to policymakers (UN and the SDGs), to the C-suite (Davos attendees) not to mention the US Presidential campaign. Examining the role of microentrepreneurs and small and growing businesses – enterprises that are numerous in aggregate but often without a voice in the debate – offers a constructive response.

The voice of these entrepreneurs is not represented because they operate largely in the shadows of the formal economy – surviving but not yet thriving. Within this pool of millions of entrepreneurs, there is a group we identify as strivers – enterprises with two to 10 employees, operating in a fast-growing market segment and with the capability and ambition to push for greater market share and grow their business. This group is poised to thrive, but what do they need to do so?

Check out the whole post and the coming series at:

Posted on May 23, 2016

Posted by: Rebecca Marx, Analyst, Capital Advisory Services

If you’ve ever taken a minute to scroll around Enclude’s website, you may have stumbled upon the meaning of the name Enclude: “Our name—Enclude—is a reflection of what we stand for.  A commitment to people, principles and prosperity that ensures a more sustainable and “enclusive” economy for all.” In our respective analyst roles carrying out a “commitment to people” on Enclude’s Inclusive Finance, Channels & Linkages, and Capital Advisory Services teams, my colleagues Mark, Paul and I were each separately introduced to the term “human-centered design” (HCD): Mark when exploring how financial institutions can better meet the needs of un(der)served entrepreneurs and households; Paul when considering how to provide real value to financial services consumers through digital channels. I was personally introduced to the term when working on a project that sought to mobilize capital needed to deliver inclusion that goes beyond just financial inclusion to better long-term financial health and higher standards of living.

Confronted with this recurring term that seemed to matter in our work, Mark, Paul and I sat down for the first time as design teammates on February 12, 2016, bound together with the aim of earning a Statement of Accomplishment in “Design Kit: The Course for Human-Centered Design”, brought to us virtually by Acumen and  In our first set of prompts, we were asked to discuss “What would you like to learn during the course?” and, frankly, our collective response was that we just wanted to understand what all the HCD talk was about, and whether it is truly a useful new approach. Our skepticism of more rhetoric in the socially responsible business space was reinforced when we explained the reason for our meeting to a seasoned colleague passing by the conference room. He commented, “oh yeah, we were doing human-centered design thirty years ago; we liked to call it ‘business’”, and suggested that “actually talking to the people” for whom you’re designing was nothing novel, but rather should have always been a focus.

With all the buildup around HCD, our team was eager to dive in and start designing, guided by readings, videos and worksheets. The course brought us through three distinct phases: