Posts for Enclude Blog

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:

Posted on April 15, 2016

Posted by: Anouk Verheijen, Senior Consultant, Sustainable Business Practices

Providing commercially viable and affordable off-grid clean energy products and services to Bottom of the Pyramid (BOP) costumers is a big ask.  It requires both efficiency and scale. How can this be achieved?

There is no one size fits all.  Different countries, different districts, different cultures and different infrastructures lead to different market ecosystems.  But this lofty goal is a worthwhile one: getting truly clean energy alternatives to the clients that traditional energy infrastructures are failing to serve is a win for people and the environment.

The Sustainable Energy Services for Africa (SESA) programme, a public-private partnership between Philips Lighting and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has been working hard to find the best ways to reach the most underserved clients.  Over 8 years, SESA has tested a variety of business models to accelerate delivery of off-grid clean energy services to BOP clients in the market ecosystems of 4 African countries: Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Enclude, together with ETC Foundation, implemented this programme from 2007-2015.

Posted on April 13, 2016

Posted by: Stefan Platteau, Global Group Lead, Microfinance

EcoMicro 1

Client Victoriana Mairena, Tonalá, Chinandega with irrigation equipment funded by FDL

Where clients suffer, lenders do too.  In Nicaragua, the Fondo de Desarrollo (FDL) was learning this all too well, as their rural clients suffered the consequences of climate change: droughts and then floods, brought on by unreliable rains.  As the conditions worsened, FDL was determined to stay true to its mission, which meant that ending rural lending programs was not an option. A green finance product had to be the answer.

In 2013, FDL was one of the first MFIs to win the EcoMicro award, designed for Latin American and Caribbean microfinance institutions (MFIs) to support the development of green finance products, enabling clients to get access to sustainable energy solutions, increase their energy efficiency, or adapt to climate change.  FDL worked with EcoMicro to develop a green finance loan product that would help their clients confront the growing environmental challenges, while contributing to sustainability on their farms and in their local ecologies and economies.

Posted on April 06, 2016

Posted by: Enclude

Tomorrow morning, Enclude’s Managing Director of Capacity Solutions, Roland Pearson, will join the U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua and representatives from Banco de América Central Nicaragua (BAC-Nicaragua) at BAC-Nicaragua’s Managua headquarters to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to express commitment and generate public awareness for a new program working to expand access to credit to women entrepreneurs in Nicaragua. The Variable Payment Obligation (VPO) Program, which officially launched in September 2015 and is funded by USAID and the Argidius Foundation, mobilizes capital from BAC-Nicaragua and third-party impact investors to lend through BAC-Nicaragua using an innovative underwriting methodology and repayment schedule, complemented with business acceleration services.

Small and growing businesses (SGBs) in developing markets often find it difficult to borrow from local banks due to heavy reliance on collateral, complex paperwork requirements, and general unease with lending to the segment due to lack of financial or other information about the borrowers. In Nicaragua, women face additional constraints due to difficulties in posting collateral (land is often registered in a male partner’s name) and complying with paperwork requirements. At the same time, foreign investors seeking to lend to SGBs face challenges such as lack of clarity regarding investor expectations, poor alignment of capital with demand on the ground (particularly debt finance), no track record of existing products, lack of exit opportunities, insufficient instruments and products in which large investors can participate, and high transaction costs associated with structuring and executing investments. Even when these obstacles are surmounted, loan repayments may not match the cash flow generated by the company, particularly in the case of earlier stage SGBs with uneven cash flows, creating further hardship.

Posted on February 01, 2016

Posted by: Enclude

22166468154_Rwanda Nov 2015


Urwego is a triple bottom line microfinance provider. Through the AfDB Training for Environmental and Social Performance Management program, Urwego is receiving customized additional coaching from Enclude’s Outcomes Management & Strategy team on how to integrate environmental performance into this triple bottom line approach to business. One project provides group loans that bring clean cookstoves to this family and their banana farm.