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Leaders and intrapreneurs: driving investment in frontier markets

Research reports

Written by Sara Pantuliano, Patrick Saez

Image credit:White forward arrow. Nick Fewings Image license:/ Unsplash

The paper identifies how leaders have created the space for change and stresses the importance of intrapreneurs driving action.

The Humanitarian and Resilience Investing (HRI) initiative was launched in 2019 to encourage flows of public and private capital into financially sustainable opportunities that benefit communities in humanitarian and fragile contexts.

A core enabler to achieve scale and unlock private capital in these contexts is organisational readiness, which refers to the preparedness of an organisation to undergo a major change or take on a significant new project.

Humanitarian and resilience investing not only introduces new financial instruments but also develops new partnerships and business models that challenge mindsets and push the boundaries of what is possible within the existing rules and systems. If organisations are not ready, new initiatives are likely to fail, because barriers will discourage or defeat intrapreneurs (entrepreneurs within an established organisation) to drive change.

The Organisational Readiness and Enabling Private Capital for Innovative Financing in Humanitarian Contexts playbook was published in 2020, to equip stakeholders with self-assessment and prioritisation tools for identifying and tackling internal barriers across five organisational pillars: mandate; organisational support; systems and procedures; resources; and implementation. This paper builds on that playbook, detailing the best practices from four pioneering organisations and showcasing key actions taken across the organisational readiness pillars.

Lead authors

World Economic Forum

Diego Hakspiel (Project Specialist, Humanitarian and Resilience Investing)
Andrej Kirn (Head of International Organizations and Humanitarian Agenda)


Patrick Saez (Senior Research Fellow and Policy Lead, Humanitarian Policy Group)

Case study authors

International Committee of the Red Cross

Juan Luis Coderque Galligo (Head of New Financing Models)
Santiago Cortes (Innovative Finance Advisor)

European Commission: Directorate General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO)

Office of Commissioner Janez Lenarčič

The United Nations World Food Programme

Hila Cohen (Chief of Staff and Head of Business Development)
Bernhard Kowatsch (Head of Innovation Accelerator)
Gulia Rakhimova (Knowledge Management Consultant)

FMO – Entrepreneurial Development Bank

Jeroen Harteveld (Portfolio Manager MASSIF)