The Nkafu Policy Institute is a think tank at the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation, which works to catalyze the transformation of African countries by focusing on social entrepreneurship, science, technology, health, and the implementation of development policies that will create economic opportunities for all. Nkafu Policy Institute is a leading African think tank with a mission to provide independent, in-depth and insightful policy recommendations that allows all Africans to prosper in free, fair, democratic and sustainable economies. The Institute is engaged in promoting policies that strengthen the private sector and has created a Small Business and Entrepreneurship Center in which it promotes business incubation.

The Nkafu Policy Institute in partnership with organizations in Ghana (InnoHub) and Burkina Faso (BBI) is implementing a two (2) years project – funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) entitled: “Social entrepreneurship for sustainable development in Sub-Saharan Africa: Lessons learnt from business incubation in Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Ghana


The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is a Canadian Organization with the mandate “to initiate, encourage, support, and conduct research into the problems of the developing regions of the world and into the means for applying and adapting scientific, technical, and other knowledge to the economic and social advancement of those regions.” To achieve this, the organ works in collaboration with partners by funding projects as such that foresees as an eligible activity the provision of financial support to third parties, as a mean to achieve its objectives.

About the Research project

Business incubators provide the structural support that enables new businesses to grow and become financially independent, which in turn strengthens the private sector and propels an economy. In the last decade, Sub-Saharan Africa has seen a proliferation of business incubators, and it is hoped that they will play a key role in attaining the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially with regards to gender equality and the promotion of sustained and inclusive economic growth. Yet, the effectiveness and impact of these business incubators remains largely unexplored. Likewise, their role in accelerating the economic transformation of Africa seems hard to be established. This study will be carried out in this exploratory phase in 3 sub-Saharan African countries with specific economic dynamics. The selected countries are: Burkina Faso, Ghana and Cameroon


Research Objectives

The overall research objective is to map the business incubation practice in selected Sub-Sahara African countries, and to see how these contribute to the attainment of SDGs 5, 8 and 9.

The relationship between success of business incubators and the country’s ecosystem for “science and innovation” is extremely important to elucidate. Innovation and science systems can be thought to entail four major components; (i) a scientific program on innovation at the ministerial level in a country; (ii) a strategy for technology diffusion in light of research and development; (iii) a science-based industrial park for technological commercialization and (iv) engagement of experts and capacity building for entrepreneurs and innovators. This project therefore seeks to better understand the initial conditions of business incubators in pilot countries, the relationship with the science and innovation ecosystem in the country, and how development partners can engage for greater and sustained impact.

This project will investigate:

  • The connection of incubation to the ecosystem for innovation and science: How conducive is the research environment in supporting innovators? How to strengthen these ecosystems in a way that is conducive to innovation and SDG? Who can do what in such ecosystems?
  • The relationship between business creation and SDGs 5, 8 and 9: what is done, what are the gaps and what should be done?
  • Opportunities and challenges resulting from the national fiscal and regulatory framework to successfully scale up.
  • The process of scaling up with a particular interest in the factors of success and failure and an analysis of the role of public policies: which are the most critical areas where innovation can make a difference?
  • Success of incubation-to-scale: generalizability of best practices observed in one country to another.

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