The Inclusive Business Scan

The Inclusive Business Scan

Rikolto has developed the Inclusive Business Scan (powered by SenseMaker) to organise real-time feedback on inclusive business in smallholder supply chains.

Rikolto has developed the Inclusive Business Scan as a tool to capture the voice of producers, producer organisations and companies. The Inclusive Business Scan, powered by Sensemaker™, allows you to guide future actions and interventions in the commodity chains. The insights you gain from the Inclusive Business Scan can support you in your role as chain actor and improve value chain interventions.

What is SenseMaker?

SenseMaker is an innovative approach based on the collection of large amounts of micro-narratives that are self-signified (interpreted) by the storyteller. In so doing, respondents make a primary assessment of their stories, adding a deeper layer of meaning to the stories and removing the potential bias of a third party interpreting the data. A pattern-detection software analyses the micro-narratives and turns the original qualitative data into aggregated visual patterns and statistical data, which offers insight into real-time issues and fast-response measures. SenseMaker provides a powerful, natural and intuitive approach in order to gain multiple perspectives and new insights into complex systems.

The Inclusive Business Scan process

The Inclusive Business Scan is applied in three phases:

As a tool, the Inclusive Business Scan relies on the collection of micro-narratives from smallholder farmers, their organisations and their leaders. Based on six main inclusive business principles, Rikolto designed a set of questions for the storytellers to signify their own stories, to uncover the relationships between the different actors in a value chain.

The Inclusive Business Scan includes:

  1. A set of signifier questions for each of the six inclusive business principles. From this set, a contextualised signification framework can be configured.

  2. A participatory 2 or 3-day training programme for story collectors, tailored to the realities of facilitating narrative collection with smallholders in rural areas.

  3. An online data-entry application and a data collection application for tablet and smartphone.

  4. Pattern detection and data visualisation software SenseMaker EXPLORER® (developed by Cognitive Edge) and a customised TABLEAU® dashboard application available for pattern analysis.

  5. A step-by-step plan for pattern analysis in collaboration with the end users.

  6. Facilitation of a participatory feedback and sense-making workshop with chain actors. The workshop facilitates collaborative analysis and stimulates a debate towards actionable insights among chain actors.

  7. A standard summary report template to document the most important results and insights from the scan.

Our track record

Rikolto developed the Inclusive Business Scan to uncover patterns based on farmers’ narratives and make value chain programmes more consistent with the farmers’ experiences and needs. This development was made possible thanks to the investment of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges Explorations.

We have accompanied the implementation of the Inclusive Business Scan for impact evaluations of IFAD in Cameroon (tubers, rice and onions) and of Catholic Relief Services in Colombia (coffee).

In our own work, Rikolto has implemented the Inclusive Business Scan in four different value chains capturing the voice of more than 2000 farmers:

  • 415 in Nicaragua (cocoa)
  • 328 in Senegal (rice),
  • 751 in the DRCongo (coffee)
  • 517 in Indonesia (cocoa)

What kind of results can you expect?


Get in touch with me if you are interested in a tailormade implementation package.

Tom Van den Steen
Tom Van den Steen
Programme Advisor Planning, Learning & Accountability