Promoting socially and environmentally sustainable social enterprise

Focus Areas

Focus Geography

EfD will draw on examples of Best Practice wherever they are to be found – in rich, middle income or poor countries. EfD will support partners whenever they are seeking to reduce poverty among the poorest people. Often these will be located in low income developing countries but in addition there are huge numbers of very poor people in countries where average incomes now classify them as low-middle income countries. EfD will only support partners in low-middle income countries when it can be demonstrated that a high proportion of the beneficiaries of our funding have average incomes below the recognised threshold of absolute poverty. When adapting models of best practice we will seek to recognise differences in social and economic contexts and support partners to adapt models so that they can be successfully deployed in low income countries and regions.

Focus Sectors

EfD will not have a narrow sector focus. However, we believe there are real opportunities to exploit interdependencies between agriculture, infrastructure, global health and technology innovation. Promoting sustainable inititatives that improve agricultural productivity, improve access to essential infrastructure and healthcare services and exploit the power of technology can bring about major improvements in livelihoods that are both sustainable and scaleable.


There is enormous scope to bring about inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction in low-income developing countries by improving agricultural productivity and incomes of smallholder farmers. EfD works closely with AgDevCo and will continue to do so. AgDevCo’s approach involves deploying catalytic finance and patient capital to achieve major improvements in productivity and incomes of farmers in sub-Saharan Africa in ways that ensure that the wider rural communities share in the benefits. EfD will continue to collaborate with AgDevCo and other organisations with similar aims particularly supporting research into development models that generate major pro-poor benefits and providing grants to support agricultural development programmes where needed and when there is a clear pro-poor public benefit.


In the medium and long-term public sector provision of universal affordable healthcare may become feasible in the developing world. In the short-term it is not and as a consequence access to even basic healthcare is often non-existent and when available of very poor quality. Social enterprise models of healthcare provision can play an important role in low-income countries to improve access to better health care for poor people in the short and medium-term. EfD will identify, highlight and support successful examples of social enterprise models of healthcare provision. It will focus in particular on opportunities to exploit interdependencies with the agriculture sector recognising that improved supply chain management for agricultural inputs and outputs can also provide a basis for improving access to essential healthcare inputs such as drugs and other basic medical equipment. The initial focus will be on healthcare improvement for mothers and babies before, during and immediately after childbirth. One means by which we will seek to do this is by sponsoring a competition to solicit proposals from healthcare practitioners in the developing world settting out innovative concepts for extending affordable access to improved healthcare for women and babies in childbirth. EfD will profile the best proposals and fund detailed scoping studies for the very best proposal received and support the partner organisation to mobilise funds to undertake initial pilots and if successful full scale-up of the approval.


The absence of even basic infrastructure services in low-income countries is one important reason why poor people remain poor. Not only does it impair the quality-of-life in the short-term but it also makes it impossible for family farmers to achieve sustainable improvements in productivity and incomes over time. InfraCo and other PIDG facilities are investing to improve access to affordable infrastructure services in low-income countries. EfD will collaborate with InfraCo and other organisations with similar aims to identify opportunities to deploy social enterprise models to extend access to infrastructure services particularly electricity, water and sanitation in circumstances where grid extensionn is inappropriate or unavailable. EfD will explore in particular interdependencies with the agriculture sector where access to electricity and water supply for irrigation for famers can present opportunities to extend village access to those services at llittle extra cost. EfD will identify, highlight and promote examples of successful delivery of affordable infrastructure for the poorest people focused particularly on water and sanitation and distributed energy solutions.


The extraordinarily rapid penetration of mobile telephones into poor communities in Africa creates a host of new opportunities to empower and improve the livelihoods of poor people. Examples in agriculture include information services about farming practices and market prices for output. Examples in healthcare include rapid access to healthcare providers when urgently required. Only a few years ago the opportunities already created by technology innovation were unthinkable. In a few more years new means of exploiting these opportunities for the benefit of poor people are certain to arise. EfD will work with partners to identify and promote technology innovation opportunities where these can confidently be expected to benefit poor people. The main focus will be on areas where technology innovation can bring benefits at the same time to farmers’ productivity, to rural healthcare outcomes and to empowerment of rural communities.In due course EfD intends to sponsor a competition soliciting proposals that best deliver these joint benefits. We will support the best proposals by mobilising funds to undertake pilot projects and then enable scale-up of the approach if the pilot shows it is successful.