BFP: What do you do?
EK: I am one of the fortunate professionals who have had the opportunity to work in various contexts, in both Eastern and Southern Africa and the Asia region. I have provided advisory services to various pro–poor rural agribusiness enterprises; public private partnership initiatives in South Sudan, Zambia, and Nepal. I have contributed and shared private sector and entrepreneurship development models in national and international policy forums and publications.
I am currently an independent consultant working on market development, present assignments include; a Making Markets Work for the Poor (M4P) feasibility study of renewable energy in Zambia for the SNV Zambia renewable Energy programme and a post –milk for school pilot business model development for WFP, Zambia.
BFP: What is the best part about your job?
EK: I have always been happy in my roles wherever I worked. One stand out break though in my professional life was when I was working for a special pro-poor entrepreneurship piloted by the UNDP’s South Asia Poverty Alleviation Programme (SAPAP). I had adopted various innovative approaches (kind investment, community insurance/ safety net package, community led infrastructure and inputs out put market for the rural poor) to address the real ultra poor issues into the programme fold. The approach and principles adopted during the pilot; were later adopted by the Government of Nepal as the cornerstone of their local development policy. This was the best part of my professional life so far - that I was able to make a bigger impact to the ultra poor community.
BFP: What have been your greatest challenges?
EK: I came from the real BOP family, initially I had to struggle a lot to find my feet. I do not regret my combat, because all those struggles made me stronger and a more independent thinker.
As far as my professional career, at times I have found myself in a difficult position because of my differing perspective of poverty, from my own life experience, with other practitioners/ colleagues coming from the better off world and understanding the issues differently. Sometimes it has been a challenge for me to convince others of ideas /innovations that I believed would really work.
BFP: How have you overcome these challenges? What advice, would you give to others?
EK: Positive attitude, consistent efforts and an appreciative inquiry process are the key tools that helped me to overcome my challenges. I never gave up! Because of this I have had global exposure to poverty reduction tools and best practice models like local economic development, social mobilization and community development, market development, inclusive business model, making market for the poor and so on and begin to understating the issues how other practitioner better understand the issues than my narrow perspective. Now I able to blend my thoughts with the other best practice model- which is really making me proud!!!
So far for the BFP community; business is a powerful tool to address many more poverty issues in the society, therefore I would advise to exchange each other’s knowledge, experiences (both breakthroughs and breakdowns) that faced by us at the various unique context and situation.
BFP: If someone wants to do what you do, where should they start?
EK: I should be proud if some one wanted to do what I am doing. It means I am doing the right thing. First of all I would share my lessons and where I had difficulties on what I am doing and what really works. If some on succeed on my model I would count it is another bark though that how we are making different collectively. Therefore I always document field level experiences and share with the likeminded forums and publication.
Based on my experiences of value chain development, M4P and market development approaches, I would not advise other practitioners to start the market development initiative with out complete understanding of the current market system as a whole.
BFP: Finally; what do you hope to get out of being part of the BFP community?
EK: BFP has generated a wealth of knowledge, various pertinent issues on private sector development, inclusive business and market access for the poor (M4P). It s becoming a knowledge hub around the above issues.
Currently I am actively participating on various discussions and making the best use of my potential and my field level practice gained in my 15 years of professional experience. At the same time I am also learning so many best practice models from other colleagues within the BFP network. By being a part of the BFP community , I feel able to contribute to shape the various innovative business model that can work in this changing and dynamic business world.
Thank you to Ekanath Khatiwada for taking the time to do this interview.
Read previous Member of the Week interviews here.