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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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