The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) is a global network of organizations that invest money and expertise to propel entrepreneurship in emerging markets. Officially launched in 2009, it is a member-driven organization housed within the Aspen Institute, an international non-profit that promotes enlightened leadership. ANDE members are the vanguard of a movement that is focused on small and growing businesses (SGBs) that create economic, environmental, and social benefits for developing countries. Ultimately, ANDE seeks to build sustainable prosperity in the developing world. ANDE identifies common strategic challenges and opportunities facing SGBs, and, based on these findings, provides programs and services for its members and the sector as a whole.
ANDE is about filling the “missing middle” – the space representing the disparity between investments in small businesses compared to other business sectors in emerging markets (microfinance for individuals and small groups; and private equity for larger businesses). These are commercially viable businesses—five to 250 employees—that have significant potential for growth but lack access to finance and knowledge resources. ANDE works to dramatically increase the amount and effectiveness of capital and business assistance for entrepreneurs in developing countries. With the right support, ANDE believes SGBs will generate much needed employment, and in the process, address critical social and environmental problems in the developing world.
ANDE acts as a trusted advocate for the SGB sector, educating investors and policy makers about the extraordinary opportunity the sector represents. ANDE sees system-wide challenges to supporting common goals that can only be addressed through collective action.
ANDE has six key focus areas:
Knowledge Sharing and Networking: ANDE programs connect different organizations within the SGB sector. Members improve their effectiveness by sharing and collaborating with one another to build this sector. ANDE currently has five regional chapters in Brazil, Central America/Mexico, East Africa, India and South Africa, and a variety of topic specific working groups.
Training and Talent Development: ANDE’s talent development programs build critical skills within member organizations, reduce training costs, and ultimately help create a pool of talented leaders in the SGB sector. Currently, it offers a two day Orientation Training for new hires and summer associates and an intensive five day Investment Manager Training for investment officers based in emerging markets.
Metrics and Evaluation: ANDE is committed to driving transparent, consistent, and high quality measurement of our members’ economic, environmental, and social impact. Its annual impact report provides the only consistent global report on the impact of SGB investors and technical assistance providers, and highlights the accomplishments of our members. ANDE is also a core partner in the Impact Reporting and Investing Standards (IRIS) initiative to advance a common framework for defining, tracking, and reporting the performance of impact investments.
Research: ANDE acts as a conduit between researchers who are seeking inputs and its members who are generating data and findings that need to be aggregated and analyzed. In addition, ANDE manages a Research Development Fund which it leverages to generate new research projects that examine the effectiveness of supporting SGBs as a tool for poverty alleviation. ANDE expects the research produced through this initiative to inform and influence impact investors, policy-makers, development banks and foundations on the social benefits of supporting small businesses.
Advocacy and Education: ANDE is actively working to increase resources for the SGB sector in order to benefit all of its members and their work. It has become a trusted resource for key constituencies (investors, governments, multi/bilateral organizations, and the news media) that influence investment and development aid decisions.