Improving advocacy and dialogue on business environment issues in Nigeria: ENABLE

Delivering sustainable improvements in advocacy and dialogue and business environment reform in Nigeria

ENABLE is a 5 year, £11m Department for International Development-funded business advocacy programme that we are implementing in conjunction with The Springfield Centre. ENABLE is unique in that it is the first donor programme to apply the principles of M4P and systems thinking to business environment reform. ENABLE aims to create sustainable, systemic change in the business environment. 

To achieve this goal, we support a variety of public and private sector organisations. These include business membership organisations, which engage in effective advocacy on behalf of the private sector, government ministries, departments and agencies, to create a more effective dialogue with the private sector media houses, to establish and sustain investigative business coverage that provides a platform for debate and creates pressure for reform and research institutions, to improve the provision of information and research on business environment issues. This leads to more substantive debate and more informed policy making.

ENABLE started out as a gender-neutral project and followed the assumption that any improvement to the business environment would benefit men and women equally. The growing research around Women’s Economic Empowerment and Making Markets Work for the Poor (M4P) however, convinced ENABLE that this assumption was no longer tenable. In year 3 ENABLE adopted a more gender-sensitive approach: an ENABLE gender strategy and framework were developed, indicators were disaggregated by gender and explicit gender objectives were included in the year 3 business plan.

However, improving WEE through a business advocacy project that makes use of the M4P methodology poses certain challenges. ENABLE was able to address these challenges through an innovative approach by deploying all-female business membership organisations in Northern Nigeria, where women are marginalized socially as well as economically. ENABLE entered into a partnership with three female organisations and supported them with advocacy training, so that female entrepreneurs could advocate effectively for a better business environment with their local governments.

Over the last four years ENABLE has delivered an impressive set of results. 19 business membership organisations have improved their advocacy capacity and performance. 14 media houses have launched new or improved small-business media products. 7 government agencies have introduced new consultation practices. 7 research institutions have launched new or improved business environment research products and 12 public-private dialogue platforms have been launched. As a result of these “system-level” changes, ENABLE partners have delivered over 80 dialogue and advocacy events, contributing to 13 cases of business environment reform across a range of issues, from fertiliser reform to multiple-taxation to cashless banking.

These reforms have improved the business environment for over 2 million micro-entrepreneurs and small-scale farmers, leading to an increase in income (or cost savings) of £131m.

In 30 years of my time in the ministry, I have not seen anything like this [policy consultation event] before. This consultation would make the policy stronger. As the private sector drives the country’s economy it is essential to include them in conversation about this policy. I appreciate ENABLE very much in helping us organize such an event.
Director, Federal Ministry of Health