Francisco Noguera

Guest Post: ANDE Initiative Rolls Out in D.C. ? The Need for Growth and Collaboration

Katherine_SamuelsLast week I had the pleasure of attending the Entrepreneurship and Development Reception, which marked the launch of the ANDE Network in Washington DC. My biggest takeaway: nothing says more about the bridging spirit of the network than the event being co-hosted by organizations representing the government, the donor community and the entrepreneurs working in the field — as described below.

I asked Katherine Samuels — Summer Associate at Agora Partnerships and co-host of this great venue — to share her insights on the event and the network with the community, to which she kindly agreed. Katherine is a candidate for a Masters of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin.

By Katherine SamuelsSomething was in the air, a buzz, a special energy. It was the feeling that I was witnessing the start of something new, something important for the development community. Following the Aspen Institute’s initial launch of the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) in Colorado, the Rockefeller Foundation sponsored an Entrepreneurship and Development reception last week, officially marking the launch of ANDE in Washington, D.C.

ANDE is a network of social entrepreneurial leaders who provide management assistance to Small and Growing Businesses (SGBs) in the developing world as well as foundations and investors who fund and support these efforts. ANDE organizations intend to pool their efforts to catalyze a movement that will unleash the resources needed to start, grow, and finance hundreds of thousands of small businesses in the developing world.

ANDE seeks to provide structure and encourage support for the SGB sector – the development community’s answer to the issue of the “missing middle”; that is, assisting those businesses that are not served by local commercial financial institutions but are too large for microfinance programs and too small for traditional venture capital. Antony Bugg-Levine, from the Rockefeller Foundation, described this new movement afoot in the SGB sector of development that prompted the formation of ANDE.

The event offered unique insights in that it brought together governmental organizations, the philanthropic community, and field practitioners to share their perspectives on development in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the spirit of this diversity, the reception was sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, organized by Agora Partnerships, and hosted by the Organization of American States through the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT).

One thing the development community knows all too well is that development is a process, and tangible impacts are made through long-term solutions from a variety of contributors. Ben Powell, from Agora Partnerships, stressed the importance of working in partnership with these organizations to help entrepreneurs create social and economic value. Roy Thomasson discussed YABT’s efforts to move this field forward in the region through youth entrepreneurship. Representatives from Dalberg, the Grass Roots Business Fund, Technoserve, World Resources Institute, Acumen Fund, Calvert Foundation, IFC, and a variety of other players in this emerging space also participated.

It is both encouraging and exciting to witness this SGB movement within the development community that seeks to fill this gap between microfinance and SMEs. ANDE’s collaborative approach, pooling industry knowledge and resources, has the potential to bring larger, more immediate impacts to SGBs that help fight poverty in some of the most challenging environments in the world.

For more information on the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs, please follow this link.