Francisco Noguera

Guest Post: 42 People Hiked in Maroon Bells, and…

VBGuest blogger Virginia Barreiro is the Global Director of the New Ventures Project at the World Resources Institute. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California in San Diego and an M.A. in Latin American Studies from George Washington University.

By Virginia BarreiroLast week a group of 42 people hiked together in Maroon Bells Colorado in the outskirts of Aspen, as part of a gathering that resulted in the formalization of ANDE – the Aspen network for Development Entrepreneurs. These individuals represent the most active organizations working on private sector solutions to poverty alleviation and sustainable development. We convened for two and a half days at the beautiful Aspen Institute to figure out how to do what we do… better.

Although varying in particular scope and approach, the organizations represented in the meeting all share a common thread: a strong conviction in the power of entrepreneurship as a way to tackle the world’s most pressing challenges. ANDE members believe that through collective action, our organizations can drive greater resources in a more efficient manner to the entrepreneurs that will ultimately deliver social and environmental change.

Although many of these organizations have been working in this space for some time now, ANDE is the first formal platform for the sector. Comprised of investment funds, enterprise development organizations, intermediaries and donors, the network spent two whole days discussing key bottlenecks to scaling the growth of Small and Growing Businesses (i.e. SMEs) and, specifically, exploring some of the most pressing challenges faced by organizations in this space:

  • How to increase the efficiency of the “SGB capital markets” and reduce the high transaction costs incurred when investing in small and growing businesses?
  • How to foster more talent creation, both at the level of SGBs and at the level of intermediaries?
  • How to standardize metrics and move towards a consistent methodology to assess the social and environmental impacts of SGBs?
  • How to increase awareness and support for our organizations among funders and investors?
  • How to help build an enabling environment for development entrepreneurship in the countries where we operate?

These are all questions each organization has tried to tackle at some point in its own way. Forums like have also played a critical role in creating spaces for the dialogue to move forward and creating interest in the field among different audiences. However, last week’s event set a more ambitious tone to the sector – one which mandates the creation of a “movement.”

ANDE kicks off having received verbal commitments of financial support from a group of foundations to provide start up funds to enable the network to get established and become fully operational by January 2009.

Hopefully a few years from now it will be said that after a hike of 42 people in Maroon Bells, a network was created, after which small and growing businesses made a leap and became fundamental drivers of a more sustainable and inclusive society.

So stay tuned! I’m sure Francisco and Rob will continue to follow ANDE through as it moves forward. Also, if you are interested in becoming a part of this network or learning more, please send an email to Veronica Chau at

Editor’s note: Click here to read Brian Trelstad’s article about the ANDE network, published in Acumen Fund’s blog.