Business Action Learning for Innovation

Business Action Learning for Inclusion (BALI) has been developed by Linda Mayoux and Asel Kuttubaeva for Rural Women’s Economic Empowerment Programme in Kyrgyzstan, funded by IFAD. RWEE currently focuses on strengthening women’s groups and associations, but will also work at indicidual level in 2019.

‘Bali-bali’ in Kyrgyz means ‘good job’. BALI adapts established PALS-based livelihoods and financial strengthening tools for business innovation by women’s groups and also individuals and households. It is a follow-on methodology for participants who are already familiar with the PALS and/or GALS methodologies.

BALI aims to:

  • Promote women’s business innovation and diversification of their opportunities within local economies. It aims particularly to help women diversify out of a narrow range of ‘female’ activities and products.
  • Enable women and low income men from all backgrounds to develop and implement realisable business and marketing plans based on their specific opportunities and challenges
  • Enable individuals, groups and projects to monitor progress towards these visions.

Drafts 2018

Tool 1 Business Innovation Vision_2018 participatory exercise based on soulmate visioning to brainstorm different types of innovative economic activities and/or products and prioritise viable and profitable innovations that could be looked at further.

Tool 2 Business Innovation Challenge Action Tree_2018 participatory exercise sharing experiences and ideas on production, marketing and human resource challenges in the different innovations and solutions and actions to address them.

Tool 3 Happy Business Tree _2018 an individual exercise that looks at the complementarities between women’s existing individual and household economic activities and the proposed business innovation to clarify expected contributions and benefits to women of their participation in the group. This aims to increase women’s commitment and motivation, and also make group leaders more aware of the views of members.

Tool 4  Business Innovation Market Map_2018 looks at existing and potential markets for products from the proposed innovation.

Took 5 Business Innovation Management Calendar_2018 a detailed cash flow projection that is tracked over time showing anticipated profits from the business innovation, profits from other activities and expenditures and financial costs. It also aims to clarify potential for savings and investment at different times of year. The same tool can be used by groups and organisations and also individuals.

Tool 6 Business Innovation Action Highway_2018 is an organisation level tool that provides a summary of progress on the projections for profits, marketing and human resource development from the business innovation activity.

See also Livelihood and Value Chain Toolkits: 

Gender Concepts

Gender Justice or Gender Equity is:

The condition of fairness and equality of opportunity whereby gender is no longer a basis for discrimination and inequality of outcomes between people.

In a gender just society both women and men enjoy equal status, rights, levels of responsibility, and access to power and resources. This enables them to make their own informed, realisable and free life choices.


Those differences between women and men which are freely chosen and value-neutral.

Most ‘differences’ between men and women however, even where they may involve an element of choice (e.g. what to wear) are nevertheless embedded in structures of gender inequality. These generally ascribe lower value to women’s choices and perpetuate unequal access to power and resources.


Elimination of those differences which ascribe lower value to women’s choices and perpetuate unequal power and resources.

Also refers to those more limited areas where men’s choices and access to power and resources are limited.

A distinction is often made between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome to allow for the possibility that women and men may freely make different life choices.


The process through which women, who are currently most discriminated against, achieve gender equity.

This will include support for men to change those aspects of their behaviour, roles and privileges which currently discriminate against women.

The extent of current disadvantage and inequality means that women’s empowerment may require support by development agencies at household, community and macro levels.

For more on empowerment concepts Click here


Where women and men are both able to realise their full potential as economic, social and political actors, free from all gender discrimination, for empowerment of themselves, their families, their communities and global humankind. This includes affirmative action for women, and support for men to change those aspects of their behaviour, roles and privileges that currently discriminate against women. It is likely to include different types of support for women from different backgrounds depending on other dimensions of disadvantage, and at different levels.


Gender is a social construct and can be changed:

  • Biological sex differences are very few and are unimportant in terms of determining gender inequality.
  • Gender inequalities are socially determined
  • As social constructs gender inequalities can be changed

Gender means both women and men:

  • Discrimination based on gender affects both women and men adversely.
  • Addressing gender inequality to redress discrimination against both women and men requires actions by both women and men to challenge their existing attitudes, privilege and practice.
  • Nevertheless in the current situation gender inequality affects women moreadversely than men.
  • This justifies prioritizing attention to those inequalities which affect women.


The GAMEchange Gender Justice framework combines two levels of analysis and action:

Participatory Visioning and Road Journeys:

Women and men at all levels: individual, household, community and organisational level do their own visioning and planning to achieve these visions. This is within an overall context of discussion about gender justice where peer pressure tends to reinforce certain messages and discourage certain other types of behaviour. This is done through using GALS visionning and followed by complementary diagram tools serve to deepen the gender analysis over time.

Meta-framework of women’s rights and CEDAW:

The CEDAW framework forms the basis of the organisational vision and informs which sorts of actions and strategies emerging from the participatory process are supported. Those actions and trends which reinforce CEDAW eg changes in women’s property rights, decision-making etc are erinforced. Those which infringe on women’s rights eg increased male control of decision-making, expenditure on alcoholism or prostitution etc are discouraged.

The CEDAW framework is used rather than other gender frameworks because it is very concrete and the CEDAW convention has been signed by most governments of countries where gender processes are being implemented. This means that gender cannot be dismissed as an external imposition.

In GAMEchange processes so far there has been little difference between the visions at community-level and CEDAW, even in the very first workshops. It has been observed that organisational staff are often more conservative than women and men in communities using the GALS tools.

Songs: Swahili

Leadership Song

By champions from Tanzania and Kenya



Vision Journey Song

Gender Balance Tree

We are starting our plans

Tunaanza Mobile:

Gender Balance Poem:

Gender Balance Poem Mobile:


Tutangazeni: let us start

Tutangazeni Mobile:
Kazi Na Usawa: Gender Balance Tree

Kazi Na Usawa Mobile:

We Are The Champions: Leadership Twist

We Are The Champions Mobile:



For downloads see:

Songs – Swahili words and English Translation


Same Exchange Workshop February 2013

A Champions Exchange Workshop was held in February 2013 to review experience and progress on visions, gender balance and sharing the GALS methodology since the catalyst workshops in November 2013.   This brought together:

  • champions from each of the Vuasu Primary Cooperatives – they cannot normally meet as a group because of very large distances between each of the cooperatives
  • champion representatives from the CMS Mbinga Ngima process: Lucas Ndunguru and Joseph Mbepera

In addition there was a parallel Hivos GALS network international capacity building for partners in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda thinking of introducing GALS so that they could learn the methodology directly from the champions already implementing in their communities.

Tools used

The workshop reviewed the vision and gender balance fruits on existing diagrams and quantified the existing outreach. Total direct outreach by the original champions was 230 for Same (20 community champions) and 174 for Mbinga (10 community champions). Or average of 1:10 outreach in 3-4 months.

February 2014 estimated direct outreach figures for Same and Mbinga.
February 2014 estimated direct outreach figures for Same and Mbinga.

The workshop also introduced some new tools:

Coffee livelihood tree

Coffee Livelihood Tree

Challenge Action Trees for peer sharing

Group 1 tree showing the challenges and actions for increasing peer sharing.
Group 1 tree showing the challenges and actions for increasing peer sharing.
Group 2 tree showing the challenges and actions for increasing peer sharing.
Group 2 tree showing the challenges and actions for increasing peer sharing.






At the end of the workshop the chair and vice chair of the Vuasu Board presented the Vuasu Vision Journey for the Cooperative Union that had been developed in the Vuasu Organisational Planning Workshop. This then enabled discussion of exactly who in which cooperative would do what to start and more forward.

Vice Chair of Vuasu presents the Vuasu Vision Journey Plan.
Vice Chair of Vuasu presents the Vuasu Vision Journey Plan.