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 aseembling computers at the Omatek factory. The owner is Florence Seriki. Within only a few years her business has grown to a successful enterprise.

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

Research Fellow

Ana Pueyo

Research Fellow

Carlos Fortin

Research Associate

Elise Wach

Research Advisor

Gerald Bloom

Research Fellow

Lizbeth Navas-Aleman

Honorary Associate

Mustafa Roberts

Contracts and Compliance Manager



Changing Business-State Relations in Development

There is much we still need to learn about the structure and process of business and the state interactions with regards to specific and general development issues. This project therefore aims to assess the state of play in research on state-business relations in developing countries, and...


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?

Recent work

Past Event

Inclusive trade

Sustainable development impact of trade and investment

This seminar discusses sustainable development impact of trade and investment - examining the accompanying role of trade facilitation measures, as well as environmental, social and other complementary policies for effective implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The seminar...

25 February 2022

Specialist short course

Making Trade Policy Inclusive (online)

This course provides a comprehensive package to advance understanding of inclusion in international trade and trade policy – covering poverty, gender, human rights, sustainability and power asymmetries.

From 1 March 2023 until 31 March 2023

Past Event

Workshop on Changing Business-State Relations in Development (Invitation Only)

This workshop aims to assess the state of play in research on state-business relations in developing countries, and outline a research agenda which builds on this foundation towards better understanding of the role of state-business relations in shaping development outcomes, including but also...

7 December 2016