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Working towards a thriving Africa free from extreme poverty

Our Strategy

Editions Afrique Lecture © I&P - Afroto, 2021

Our Strategy


A thriving Africa free from extreme poverty.


Act with urgency and ambition to catalyse and scale income-generating opportunities for people living in extreme poverty in rural sub-Saharan Africa.


Collaborate with those creating the environment for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to succeed and deliver opportunity at scale. In particular, work with intermediaries that increase availability of the finance, social and human capital, knowledge, technology and markets required by a thriving, commercially viable MSME ecosystem.

System Entry Points

Small Foundation work is focused on three system ‘entry points’. While each entry point has distinct ambitions, they interconnect and reinforce each other.


Commercially viable, sustainable models serving rural MSMEs

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Connected, transparent and learning ecosystems

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Changing patterns of empowerment and agency in Africa

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Theory of Change

Small Foundation Activities
Key Ecosystem Elements
Rural MSMEs Ecosystem
Income Generating
Impacts on Individuals

Our Role

Supporting through a Systems Lens

In 2021 Small Foundation decided to formally use systems thinking tools and techniques to review our strengths, weaknesses, and understanding of the systems that we work in.

We reaffirmed the central importance of thriving micro, small and medium sized enterprises as key drivers of poverty-reducing change in the rural economies of sub-Saharan Africa.

We also identified system entry points around which to focus our work. These entry points set out the systems changes we believe will spur the proliferation and growth of MSMEs across Africa. They are also aligned with where Small Foundation and our partners have relevant and potentially additional skills and capabilities that could be leveraged in service of these ambitions.


Nature of Our Support


We provide appropriate financial support to help our partners achieve financial sustainability and greater social impact.

Non-financial support

Our non-financial support includes enabling access to learning, leveraging our networks, and our staff serving in governance roles where needed.

Impact networks

We support impact networks that seek to drive systemic change in MSME business ecosystems by increasing effective connection and collaboration between multiple stakeholders.


Our Support Criteria

  1. Compatibility with SF’s systems change strategy
  2. Effectiveness of impact on extreme poverty
  3. Sustainability of impact
  4. Scalability of impact
  5. High leverage point in ecosystem
  6. Additionality of SF’s support
  7. SF capacity to support effectively
  8. Degree of local involvement.