INCLUDE Platform

INCLUDE Secretariat

WEBSITE: http://includep...
SPECIALISATION: productive employment, social protection, strategic actors for inclusive development

INCLUDE, the Knowledge Platform on Inclusive Development Policies, was established in June 2012. It brings together researchers from African countries and the Netherlands who work with the private sector, NGOs and governments to exchange information and ideas on how to achieve better research-policy linkages on economic transformation and inclusive development. The INCLUDE Secretariat, which is responsible for the Platform’s knowledge management, is a consortium made up of the African Studies Centre (ASC) in Leiden, The Broker, the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), and the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS/EUR).

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Question of the week 21 2017-01-18 16:37:21
Thank you for your reply. The questions posted in your article 'The world is not managable' published by the Broker are indeed still very relevant. Kellerman's point of spoiled efforts on leadership has received little attention in the debate on inclusive development. The question is what this means for this discussion. Given that you published the article 4 years ago, could you elaborate on how you see this discussion today?

Question of the week 17 2016-11-12 15:30:27
Many thanks to all who contributed to this Question of the Week. The practical examples you have described are providing valuable insight into successful practice, and thereby identify possible pathways for policy makers that seek to more effectively include informal workers’ organizations.

The given examples of policies and programmes differed in terms of location, target group as well as project content. In this regard L. Bisschop (Ghent University) pointed out that, when designing and implementing policies, it is crucial to take into account the unique traits of the targeted informal workers, their needs, demands and specific services to the community. However, based on the answers, a number of practical measures can be identified as ‘promising formulas’:

- financial support for organizers on the ground

- training of informal workers in leadership, legal rights and business skills

- scholarships to informal workers’ children to promote school enrolment

- establish partnerships with informal workers’ organizations for tax collection, security provision etc.

- extension of social protection to workers in the informal economy

- including informal sector workers in both design as well as implementation of social protection programmes that target them

- engage (representatives of) informal trade associations in official policy debates as equal partners

In addition to these practical recommendations, two related key issue       were raised by multiple contributors: ‘empowerment’ and ‘recognition’. The practical programme-components listed above eventually all serve a larger purpose: They are meant to strengthen existing, or encourage the development of, informal workers’ organizations. This is important because, as Kate Meagher (LSE) adequately put it, a strong organization means informal workers “are in a position to negotiate and collaborate on fairer terms”. Thus, the official recognition of informal workers as equal partners in policy debates, combined with efforts to empower them to exercise their collective power seem to be the way forward.

Question of the Week 12 2016-10-04 15:09:47
According to the contributors to this question, the main ingredient proposed to create jobs in the ICT sector seems to be increased public investment. This includes investments in education programs in all school levels (including literacy programmes) and ICT hubs. Governments could consider digitizing their services, as this stimulates jobs in ICT as well.

Yet, increasing high-skill jobs is not a matter of more investment. It requires a focus on high-skill jobs in research and education. A focus on innovation relevant at the local (often rural) level. This is mainly the proposal for improvements in tertiary education, which are often focused on urban jobs. Increased cooperation between African and European research institutions could help in this regard, as well as cooperation between multinational companies and local companies.

Question of the Week 10 2016-09-16 13:34:38
While there is general agreement about the importance of recognizing the skills acquired in the informal sector, contributors to this question have identified a number of challenges that make such validation particularly difficult, including: highly varied quality of training in the informal sector; limited transferability of skills, as they are often very specific and learned ‘on the job’; and big risk of fraud and corruption when it comes to official skills-recognition.

To address these challenges and promote the recognition and validation of skills acquired in the informal sector, both governments and private sector have a role to play. In terms of policy, the government is advised to formulate a holistic qualification framework, that allows for skills ‘translation’. That is, such a framework would help establishing equivalence between formal, non-formal and informal skills and education'.

Most contributors also point to the potential of partnerships between governments and the private sector. Such collaboration is thought key for successful identification and validation of skills acquired in the informal sector. In addition, with the active involvement of the private sector, one major obstacle – lack of information on the quality of skills – can be overcome. Being involved in the provision of skills-training, -testing, and –validation would give the private sector more security as to the quality of acquired skills. Miriam Katunze (EPRC) further adds that community leaders should be actively involved as well. Their knowledge of the work and education of people living in their communities will be of great value in the process of skills-validation.

Finally, a number of practical instruments and policy-measures have been identified to promote recognition and validation of skills acquired in the informal sector:
i. Develop a curriculum that identifies skills needed in particular areas of activity
ii. Introduce a test or exam, formulated by experts from the formal and informal sector as well as vocational training institutes
iii. Offer training to informal sector workers, the quality of which is guaranteed by accreditation
iv. Provide information to companies – in the informal as well as the formal sector – on the value and transferability of skills acquired in the informal sector. 

Question of the Week 9 2016-09-09 12:53:23
“No doubt, targeted finance schemes can catalyse pro-poor and innovative business models which can foster inclusiveness”. Although contributors held some different opinions with regard to the impact, goals and direction of targeted finance schemes, no one appeared to disagree with this statement of mr. Stephen Kasule from the Dutch Embassy in Kampala on the general value of such schemes.

One of the main obstacles for the success of targeted finance schemes is that programmes with a high likelihood of yielding financial, rather than social or environmental, profits will have less trouble acquiring funding and inclusive businesses that appear more risky to invest in – including informal businesses – are denied credit. As this bias works against inclusiveness rather than promoting it, involvement of the public sector to address policy failures, actively direct finance schemes and improve the business environment is vital.

Thus, a combination of public- and private-sector efforts - through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) or complementary actions - seems the best way forward to ensure targeted finance schemes successfully stimulate inclusive business. Multiple suggestions have been made as to the actual focus of these schemes. Contributors suggest that targeted finance schemes should:  

- target informal small businesses with an inclusive business approach. Since the majority of African businesses is part of the informal sector, it is imperative to support this sector to achieve inclusiveness;

- include credit provision to the bottom of the pyramid (BoP). For example, empowering female and/or young entrepreneurs through microcredits, will greatly enhance inclusiveness and at the same time promote general economic growth;

- support programmes that encourage employability through skills training that is explicitly aligned with the skills demand of the market.

The discussion so far clearly recognizes targeted finance schemes as instrumental in promoting inclusive business, as long as their models manage to circumvent existing market and/or policy failures. However, what remains up for debate is the exact role the involved stakeholders each have to play. In other words, who should do what in promoting targeted finance schemes to enhance inclusiveness?