Applications Open to the Inaugural Edition of the Lion’s Den

lionsdenDalberg is supporting the inaugural edition of the Lion’s Den. Modeled on the Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank, entrepreneurs in the Lion’s Den will pitch their business, design, product or idea to a panel of five Kenyan business leaders. Lion’s Den is powered by Kenya Commercial Bank, the largest commercial bank in East Africa by assets, and will be aired by Nation TV, the leading media house in East Africa.

The ask: Share this with those in your networks that you think have investment-worthy ideas, businesses, products or designs.

How to apply: Fill in this application form and email it and any additional materials by July 24th to and with cc to Use the subject line “Lion’s Den application”

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Enabling Returns for the Displaced in Syria

By Dalberg’s Paul Callan, and Talya Lockman-Fine; and Globesight’s Taufiq Rahim, Alaa’ Odeh, and Anna De Palma  

The scale of the conflict in Syria is hard to comprehend: almost half a million people killed, according to some estimates, and more than half of the country’s pre-war population displaced. By all measures, the conflict has resulted in one of the largest humanitarian crises of our time. With 6.5 million internally displaced people and another 4.8 million Syrian refugees in host countries, addressing displacement in the short and long term is integral in the response to the crisis.

In recent months, there have been international efforts to reach a cease-fire, to middling success. While there is still no end in sight to the violence in the short term, the situation on the ground is shifting, at least in some areas. For example, some U.S.-backed rebels are making gains against the Islamic State in the north. Islands of peace and stability will likely emerge in the medium term in Syria, regardless of the progress of the overall negotiations. As the focus turns to reconstruction and reconciliation, the displaced could have new opportunities to return.

Reversing displacement requires advanced planning. We have studied the aftermath of several past conflicts as well as the on-the-ground reality in Syria and found that the following specific actions can be taken to enable successful returns.

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Comment les dirigeants africains peuvent attirer d’avantage d’IDE chinoises ?

Par Aurelien Chu et  Hafsa Anouar 

Après deux cent ans de stagnation, de guerre civile et de famine, la Chine émerge à nouveau comme puissance économique mondiale. Cette situation a des répercussions certaines sur le reste du monde car bouscule et parfois renforce l’ordre international établi. Les prêts et les investissements chinois octroyés par les banques, les entreprises publiques et le secteur privé se sont multipliés en Afrique durant la dernière décennie. Les logos des entreprises chinoises de construction sont légion sur le continent. Il en est de même des produits « Made In China ».

Les investissements chinois en Afrique s’intéressent moins au contexte des pays ciblés qu’à celui de la Chine. Avec le récent crash boursier de l’Empire du Milieu, les dirigeants africains doivent développer des stratégies fortes qui les prépareraient aux fluctuations attendues dans les IDE vers l’Afrique.

Fig1 montre les fluctuations du marché boursier chinois entre 2013 et 2015


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How can African leaders encourage more Chinese FDI to Africa in the midst of fluctuations in the Chinese stock market?

By Aurelien Chu and Hafsa Anouar

After two hundred years of stagnation, civil war, and famine, the re-emergence of China as a global economic power has profoundly affected the rest of the world – sometimes challenging and sometimes reinforcing the established international order. Chinese loans and investments, provided by state-owned banks and enterprises as well as private sector actors, have poured into Africa in the past ten years – the visible logos of Chinese construction companies or the markets bustling with Made in China products are an omnipresent reminder. But China’s outwards investments in Africa often have less to do with the context of the target countries than they do with conditions back home. With the recent Chinese stock market turmoil, African leaders should prepare themselves for the fluctuations in Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) to the continent.

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Capitalizing on a $2.5bn opportunity in East Africa

By Angela Hansen and Michael Davis

What am I? Indigenous to the Andes, I’m the #2 grown crop in Kenya and Rwanda.  The average “global citizen” eats nearly 75 lbs of me a year.  In East Africa, my demand is a multibillion dollar unmet opportunity.

I’m a captivating child’s toy whose ears and accessories were the first toys ever advertised on television, but I’ve also been responsible for some of history’s greatest famines.

Guessed it yet?

If you said an Irish potato, full marks and a hat tip to you.

Irish potatoes are not only a crop of immense importance but are also a significant economic opportunity in East Africa. The product is a staple in the region, and with continuing urbanization and growth of the middle class, demand for potatoes and their derivatives (particularly chips and crisps) is expected to continue growing quickly. As only 20% of potatoes grown in East Africa are currently sold for processing – versus 50% in most developed nations – the room for growth can’t be underestimated.

So is all this opportunity creating a reliable income stream for the 2.2 million smallholder farmers currently growing potatoes in East Africa? Sadly no. A historic lack of support from government and investment from companies has left the potato value chain highly fragmented and disorganized with too few aggregators creating economies of scale.  Farmers are not growing the quantity, quality, and variety of potatoes markets require, which in turn has resulted in processors not being able to utilize their full capacity. Increasing demand for potatoes, particularly for processing, is currently met through imports, which have increased 30% year on year since 2001.

Supply is significant. Demand is growing. Yet, like too many other crops in Africa, one does not seem to match the other. What is to be done? Grow Africa recently engaged with Dalberg on this very question. In order to take advantage of opportunities in the value chain we found that:

In the short term, governments should support development of the seed and storage sub-sectors, and companies should invest there.

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Driving demand for chlorhexidine: Introducing a human-centered design toolkit

By Nikki Tyler.

First published on Healthy Newborn Network.

In 2015, 2.7 million babies died within their first 28 days of life. The first 28 days of life – termed the neonatal period – is recognized as the most vulnerable time for a child’s survival. But there’s hope – because of a number of effective interventions and programs, the number of neonatal deaths has decreased over 40% since 1990. How can we continue, and accelerate progress, in reducing such neonatal deaths?

Chlorhexidine, an antiseptic applied to the umbilical cord, is one way. Chlorhexidine has demonstrated significant potential in reducing neonatal mortality. When used in high-risk settings on the first day of life, chlorhexidine for umbilical cord care has shown a 23% reduction in all-cause neonatal mortality. Chlorhexidine is low-cost at less than $0.25 per dose, simple to use – requiring minimal training, and easy to manufacture. Yet, in high-risk settings, chlorhexidine still isn’t widely used, even with its large potential for impact. Why is that?

One reason – chlorhexidine isn’t well-known, oftentimes at either the facility or community level. Significant efforts around demand generation are needed to raise awareness of this life-saving commodity. Many countries in the midst of introducing and scaling chlorhexidine, including Ethiopia, Madagascar, and Nigeria, have cited demand generation as a key priority not only in introduction of chlorhexidine, but also in sustainability of programming.


To that end, USAID’s Center for Accelerating Innovation and Impact recently partnered with Dalberg’s Design Impact Group to design a demand generation toolkit to support the development and adaptation of tools to drive demand for chlorhexidine. The toolkit is designed for countries and communities in the process of introducing and scaling chlorhexidine. It has two parts: (1) a guide which provides details about the concepts and how they can be adapted and used, and (2) an asset library which includes editable templates and images. This toolkit provides starting points for stakeholders to create their own demand generation materials. The concepts can be downloaded and easily tailored to the local context through translating into other languages, updating images, adding logos to reflect the Ministry and partners active in the given country, or integrating into existing child health demand generation materials. The toolkit is free, open source, and can be downloaded here.

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Decoding Diversity: Financial and Economic Returns of Diversity in Tech

overviewofdivintechDalberg and Intel released a new report that shows improving ethnic and gender diversity in the U.S. technology workforce represents a massive economic opportunity, one that could create $470 – $570Bn in new value for the tech industry, and could add 1.2 – 1.6% to national GDP.

Growth on this scale would have major implications for both the labor and consumer markets, supporting job creation and better products. And yet, the tech industry is not drawing upon the full pool of available talent. While it is no secret that women and racial/ethnic minorities are underrepresented at tech companies—by 19 percentage points for women compared to their presence in the US labor force; by 16 – 18 percentage points for Hispanics, African Americans, and Native Americans—it may come as a surprise to learn how little these figures have changed in the last 15 years.

For technical roles, female representation falls to 12 percent—far short of the proportion of women working in many other occupations traditionally viewed as male-dominated (to name a handful: oil drilling, metal forging, and investment management). Tech leaders recognize this gap and are investing to shrink it, yet racial/ethnic minority representation has only improved by 1 – 2 percentage points over fifteen years, and female representation has fallen by one percentage point. This report offers first-of-its-kind analysis of the economic impact of improving diversity in the tech sector, based on diversity data from nearly 170 companies.

These findings indicate clear correlations – though not necessarily causation – between more diverse tech company workforces and higher revenues, profits, and market value. The data show that every incremental percentage point in African American and Hispanic representation is linked with a three-percentage-point increase in revenues, meaning that the sector could generate an additional $300 – $370Bn each year if the racial/ethnic diversity of tech companies’ workforces reflected that of the talent pool. Similarly, closing the gap in female leadership representation could boost enterprise value by $320 – $390Bn across the sector. This analysis is only now possible because a number of tech companies—including such leading firms as Apple, Yahoo, and Facebook among others—have committed to publicly releasing diversity data.

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Enhancing the Resilience of Migrants

By Tamara Pironnet, Charles Kwenin, and Sam Lampert

This blog post is adapted from “Smart Practices that Enhance the Resilience of Migrants”, a study that Dalberg conducted on behalf of the International Federation of the Red Cross. A summary of the study can be found here.

People migrate in pursuit of a better life for themselves and their families. While there are common motivations that many migrants share, each person migrates for unique reasons and frequently only makes the decision to leave their home when staying is no longer a viable option. This global phenomenon has existed for centuries and been an important driver of global welfare.  It is not a crisis. Migrants create companies and jobs, promote development by sending remittances to the families who remained in their country of origin, and enrich the communities where they live. When managed well, migration brings opportunities to both countries of origin and countries of destination.

On World Refugee Day, however, we must recognize the vast human cost incurred when migration is not managed well.  Developing an effective strategy to support migrants can be daunting because the needs of migrants vary enormously, based on a set of intrinsic and extrinsic factors that are unique to each individual. In our conversations with migrants, we’ve heard a range of stories that illustrate the combination of motivations that influenced a migrant’s decision to leave their home as well as the wealth of assets they brought with them.

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[Video] Yana Kakar at the African Development Bank Annual Meetings

Global Managing Partner Yana Kakar spoke at the African Development Bank’s Annual Meetings on enhancing economic opportunities for women and young people in the agriculture sector. Dalberg also helped develop and launch two of the Bank’s new “high five” strategic priorities on Agricultural Transformation and Jobs for Youth in Africa.

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Cassava Innovation Challenge

Cassava Innovation Challenge

Attempting to reduce the staggering amounts of food loss in cassava is ambitious.

Indeed research institutes have spent decades working on preservation and post-harvest technologies, but they mostly focused on increasing yield from the crop by reducing pests and combatting diseases that turned the crop brown and inedible, and increasing nutrition. The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), based in Nigeria, has successfully introduced drought-tolerant cassava varieties and technology to increase yields. Yet  the problem of high spoilage rates and limited shelf life still remains.

Which is exactly why we are excited to have launched this Challenge, in pursuit of ideas and solutions that could revolutionize both the cassava industry, the lives of smallholder farmers, and food security in Nigeria and beyond.

For more information and the official rules, please visit:   

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