Katalyst’s key strength is that it understands both the local development dynamics and the realities of the business world, and that it is able to bring the two together in ways which create viable businesses which provide a sustainable vehicle to address the developmental challenges of Bangladesh.
The success of the project over its long life has been monitored closely by the measurement and evaluation teams of the funding donor agencies. That Katalyst has been highly successful in creating jobs and raising incomes has been clearly demonstrated. Katalyst is a development project with a difference. Whereas many development programmes are based on making grants to governments and others, Katalyst’s approach was to work very closely with the private sector. Katalyst facilitated companies in the development of business models which provided benefits to poor people – be that by engaging the poor as producers and suppliers, or by developing goods and services they might consume.
In developmental terms therefore inclusive business works well as a tool for inclusivity. Inclusive business is a strategy which more companies might use to identify and enter new markets, and which can provide the skills and capabilities to do so successfully.
Why has Katalyst Succeeded?
Katalyst has undertaken a wide range of activities and interventions over its lifetime, but what did the project do to ensure an inclusive business approach to addressing societal challenges where more traditional donor approaches had failed?
Collaboration with Katalyst has given companies services and support that has enabled them to create successful businesses. Katalyst is still valuable to private sector companies because it can identify and stimulate new business. It has a deep understanding of the needs of smallholder farmers in Bangladesh, while simultaneously being able to advise companies on how these needs might translate into profitable, durable business.
As donor agencies seek to work more closely with the corporate sector and engage companies in development, the experience of Katalyst will continue to provide vital lessons.