Strategies for Business Development Services (BDS)


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What are Business Development Services? 

Business Development Services (BDS) comprise a wide range of non-financial services provided by private suppliers (BDS providers) to entrepreneurs who use them to efficiently operate and make their businesses grow. The types of services in a functioning BDS system are determined by the demand articulated on the part of the businesses. Some examples of BDS include:

Market access services:

  • Market information; market linkages; trade fairs and product exhibitions; development of samples for buyers; subcontracting and outsourcing; marketing trips and meetings; market research; market space development; showrooms; packaging; advertising.

Input supply services:

  • Linking MSEs to input suppliers; improving suppliers’ capacity to provide a regular supply of quality inputs; facilitating the establishment of bulk buying groups; information on input supply sources.

Technology and product development services:

  • Technology transfer/commercialisation; linking SMEs and technology suppliers; facilitating technology procurement; quality assurance programmes; equipment leasing and rental; design services.

Training and technical assistance:

  • Mentoring; feasibility studies and business plans; exchange visits and business tours; franchising; management training; technical training; counselling/advisory services; legal services; financial and taxation advice; accountancy and bookkeeping.

Infrastructure-related and information services:

  • Storage and warehousing; transport and delivery; business incubators; telecommunications; courier services; money transfer; information via print, radio, TV; internet access; computer services; secretarial services.

Policy and advocacy:

  • Training in policy advocacy; analysis and communication of policy constraints and opportunities; direct advocacy on behalf of MSEs (e.g. taxation problems and premises); sponsorship of conferences; policy studies.

Access to finance

  • BDS providers do not provide direct financial support, but link businesses to banks and micro-finance institutions; provide information on credit schemes and conditions; encourage savings; assistance in business planning for loan applications.

The BDS Bluebook of the Donor Committee 


Committee of donor agencies
for small enterprise development, Washington 2000
Business Development Services for Small Enterprises: Guidelines for Donor Interventions bds-guidelines-bluebook.doc
117 KB  Contents: Vision and scope of BDS; actors and their roles; outreach and sustainability; BDS market assessment; demand-side and supply-side interventions; delivery and payment; subsidies; role of BDS facilitation; evaluation.


Miehlbradt/McVay,Turin 2002
Seminar Reader. Developing commercial markets for BDS

Contents: What is BDS? The market development paradigm; market assessment; separate roles of provider and facilitator; tools: sub-sector analysis, demand analysis, test marketing, rapid appraisal, market overview, consumer survey, supplier interviews; fee for services; Strategies: voucher programs, consumer information, clustering, business linkages, product development; performance measuring. bds-reader-turin-2002.pdf  1,12 MB


Diversified BDS Strategies   [top]


Dr. Wolfgang Schneider-Barthold / Antonia Irwin, Munic 2002
The revised BDS paradigm.
BDS for all categories of enterprises

"The level of business development services (BDS) provided depends on the type and stage of development of the enterprise.  The standard provision of BDS through donors or the state fostered a favouring of the upper markets by service providers neglecting the needs of small and micro enterprises.  The growing recognition that each level provides a valuable source of growth for an economy has underpinned the need for another shift in paradigm. The services need to be flexible, reflect accurately development needs and when necessary be provided for free." More on: bds-paradigm-revised-2002.doc  34 KB


Dieter Gagel, Addis Ababa 2005

Develop sustainable Busines
Development Services without Radicalism 
101 KB

Content: Market simulation instead of stimulation? Constraints of voucher schemes, voucher bureaucracy ad market distortion by subsidies; alternative BDS market stimulation instruments: strengthen collaboration between banks and BDS; use brokers for advertizing; capacity building measures for BDS providers; criticizing the "full commercial BDS approach"; "BDS" versus "Self-help"; why should commercial providers be more sustainable than NGOs, self-help organisations and public institutions?  bds-revised-2005.doc 

Women and Business

Abena Otu - EDC Consulting, Accra 2006
Women Entrepreneurs Re-Engineering Module

women-enterprises-re-engineering.doc  371 KB

BDS related Websites 

SEEP Network (ILO) Web site
BDS Guide www.seepnetwork.org/bdsguide.html

Start and Improve your Business - Training Modules
for Business Creation www.start-your-business.net

Ethiopian BDS Network www.bds-ethiopia.net

BDS Reader www.bds-ethiopia.net/bds-reader.html

Monthly email based BDS Newsletter




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Business Development Services (BDS) - Ghana