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First Coastal Community Livelihood Incubator for the South-West Indian Ocean

Project Lead: WWF
Supporting Partners: Finance Earth, The MSI, Technoserve, SWIOTuna, Ocean Hub Africa
Financial Support: The UK’s Blue Planet Fund
Location: South-West Indian Ocean (SWIO) region


ORRAA partner WWF is working to unlock private and public sector finance for sustainable coastal development in the South-West Indian Ocean (SWIO) region. By accelerating community led enterprises through the design of a regional incubator, this project aims to empower coastal communities to develop viable livelihoods and secure investment.  


The coastal areas of the SWIO region are largely under the stewardship of communities that are struggling with issues related to food security, viable livelihoods, health, education and safety. While the need to unlock private and public sector finance for the sustainable development of coastal communities is recognised, the reality is that community-led initiatives and enterprises are almost always too small, too risky and/or offer low financial returns in the short-term preventing private sector engagement. Yet some of these communities are the most exposed to vulnerabilities from climate and ocean change.

The lack of a coastal community incubator in the SWIO region represents a significant gap and barrier to supporting coastal community enterprise and economic development across the region. The limited availability of investible projects within the sustainable blue economy, alongside inadequate enabling environments, also means that investors and the broader mainstream finance sector continue to adopt conventional approaches to finance. This leads to investments which provide quick and often unsustainable wins without considering the long-term consequences for people and planet.


Previous WWF research in 2020 identified 28 community-led enterprises in the SWIO region. WWF is now working to empower community-led businesses and provide a prototype template for a regional incubator. 

Work is underway in Kenya to develop a “headline” business plan to accelerate a community-led business and provide a prototype template for a regional incubator. Meetings with the coastal communities involved took place in early 2022. In addition, a regional multi-stakeholder virtual workshop took place to bring together those working with coastal communities across the SWIO to explore the value, role and governance of a regional incubator, and to co-design the incubation programme. 

Scalability and Next Steps

This plan will outline the business case which will form the foundation and decision gateway for creating a full ‘investment grade’ business plan.