Business and Development Centre

The Business and Development Centre seeks to provide much needed research and practical analysis on the role business plays in addressing global challenges such as inequality, sustainability and security informed by thinking from across business, economics, political science and development studies.

Technicians work assembling computers at the Omatek factory. The owner is Florence Seriki. Within only a few years her business has grown to a successful enterprise. Credit: S. Torfinn - Panos

Business is increasingly identified in global frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), by national governments and donor agencies and at a more local level by communities and citizens as playing a key role in addressing development challenges. Yet understanding of the role business can play alongside government, donors and NGOs, and also the negative development consequences it can have, is limited by a lack of evidence and robust analysis.

Since its launch in March 2014, the Business and Development Centre has taken a problem-oriented approach to understanding the conditions required for effective business contributions in specific sectors including health, agriculture, nutrition, finance, energy and the circular economy.  The Centre builds on a well-established track record of IDS research on markets, value chains and business, as well as participatory methodologies and evaluation, both of which bring a unique perspective and approach to our work.  The Centre focuses on four key areas:

  1. Markets: Using systems theory to map and understand formal and informal markets, how they intersect and affect the lives of the poorest, and how they can be restructured to work better for development.
  2. Innovation: Understanding different forms of innovation in product, process and organisation, how they disrupt markets, their potential for development, and how they can be made more inclusive.
  3. Inclusion: Understanding the potential and limits of market-based approaches to reach the poorest and most marginalised, who face multiple barriers across different dimensions (economic, social, political) and who typically lack the skills, assets and resources required to benefit from markets.
  4. Political economy: Understanding how business and state actors, and multi-stakeholder partnerships, affect market governance and the way markets work, and the implications for development outcomes. 


Read the Business and Development Centre launch report (PDF).

Image: Technicians work assembling computers at the Omatek factory in Nigeria, owned by Florence Seriki. Within only a few years her business has grown to a successful enterprise. Credit: S. Torfinn - Panos

Amrita Saha profile photo More details

Photo of Ana Pueyo More details

Photo of Carlos Fortin More details

Photo of Elise Wach, Evaluation and Learning Advisor with the Impact and Learning Team More details

Photo of Emilie Wilson More details

Photo of Gerry Bloom, Research Fellow of the Knowledge Technology and Society team More details

Photo of Hubert Schmitz from Green Transformations Cluster More details

Photo of Jing Gu More details

Photo of Lizbeth Navas-Aleman More details

Photo of Mar Maestre Morales, Globalisation More details

Photo of Mustafa Roberts, IDS More details

Photo of Philip Mader, Research Fellow, Business, Markets and the State More details

Photo of Sir Richard Jolly More details

IDS Research Fellow Seife Ayele More details

Photo of Spencer Henson, Globalisation Research Fellow More details

Photo of Professor Stephany Griffith-Jones - Economist More details

Stephen Spratt, IDS Research Fellow More details

BRICS Economic Engagement Footprint Study

This project investigated the nature of economic relations between the BRICS and Africa, in order to quantify the development footprint, focusing on various elements such as trade, investment. finance, ODA and migration. The current phase aims to look at development finance and the role of BRICS development banks. More details

Business from the BRICS

The Rising Powers in International Development Programme is looking at the growing role of business from the BRICS countries in the field of international development cooperation. More details

Financing Renewable Energy in Developing Countries: Mechanisms and Responsibilities

Financing Renewable Energy in Developing Countries: Mechanisms and Responsibilities is a background paper that has been prepared for the European Report on Development (ERD) 2012. More details

Green Growth Diagnostics for Africa

This project is looking into the heart of the electricity supply crisis in sub-Saharan Africa. More details

Inclusive business in practice

Inclusive business has been recognised as an opportunity to deliver development impacts through innovative approaches to business. IDS has been working on case studies of what this actually means in practice with the Business Innovation Facility (BIF). More details

Low Carbon Innovation Paths in China, India and Europe

Mitigating climate change requires technological innovation. This project analyses the innovation paths pursued in Europe and Asia. More details

Market Based Solutions for the Extreme Poor

Studies have shown that it is often wealthier people in a community who benefit from market approaches to combatting poverty – men more than women, non-disabled more than disabled. So how and to what extent can market-based solutions improve the lives of extremely poor people? More details

Partnering for Better Food

This project aims to identify and support scalable public-private innovative partnerships in developing countries that bridge the gaps between agriculture and nutrition programmes to improve nutrition for the poor and undernourished. More details

Pathways to Inclusive Development through Innovation, Technology and Change

Pathways to Inclusive Development through Innovation, Technology and Change” is developing a framework to analyse alternative pathways that link different forms of technological innovation, and evaluate resulting structural change and inclusion outcomes in low?income countries. More details

Political Economy of Low Carbon Investment in China and India

This project investigates whether and how coalitions of public, private and civic actors influence low carbon investment. More details

Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in Agriculture: Enabling Factors and Impact on the Rural Poor

This research will identify the key factors driving the effectivness of public-private partnerships (PPPs) at bringing sustained increases in income for smallholder farmers at scale and delivering positive development outcomes across rural communities. More details

Rent Management: the Heart of Green Industrial Policy

At the heart of green industrial policy is rent management: government creating and withdrawing opportunities for highly profitable investment. This project asks what the key factors are for rent management to succeed. More details

Success Factors for Lead Firms to Shape Inclusive Procurement

This consultancy examines best practices both operationally and in the literature surrounding business models from the view point of inclusivity of smallholder farmers More details

Who Drives Climate Policies in the Rising Powers?

This project is concerned with the political economy analysis of climate change policies. The central question of the project is who drives/obstructs climate change policies in the rising powers, paying special attention to renewable energy policies. More details

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