The Argidius Foundation and the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs Announce Prize of One Million Euros
Monday, September 29, 2014
NEW YORK—September 29, 2014 — The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) and the Argidius Foundation—a charitable foundation promoting businesses as a way to mitigate poverty—have announced an award of one million euros ($1.27 million) to Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P), an impact investment group dedicated to African small and growing businesses. The award was part of the first Argidius-ANDE Finance Challenge (AAFC).
Sponsored by the Argidius Foundation and launched in spring 2012, the AAFC called for innovative solutions to help fill the financing gap for emerging market start-ups. I&P was selected from among five pilot projects. Each project, focusing on at least one of the following target countries—Burkina Faso, Guatemala, Honduras, Mali, Moldova or Nicaragua—was awarded a grant of 200,000 euros to conduct an extensive pilot program, during which ANDE provided ongoing guidance.
A grand prize of one million euros is now being awarded to I&P for demonstrating the potential to achieve the greatest impact through both replication and scale.
I&P has created a local equity investment vehicle and supporting infrastructure designed for small and growing businesses (SGBs) in Burkina Faso and modeled after a proven example in Niger. During the AAFC pilot phase, I&P built a strong management team, offering coaching and technical assistance support to entrepreneurs. I&P also raised 1.34 million euros from 12 investors, 77 percent of which is African private capital. I&P aims to build on this experience and structure an equity investment industry dedicated to SGBs in Africa through a network of 10 vehicles in 10 countries, thus replicating the fund across the region. I&P will continue to offer critical technical assistance to its investee businesses as well as capital, in addition to building a network, enabling those businesses to learn from one another.
“All five pilot programs offered promising solutions to help unlock capital for the missing middle,” said Nicholas Colloff, executive director of Argidius Foundation. “What the selection committee found most impressive about I&P was its vision and ability to implement a proven investment model in very difficult business environments,” added Randall Kempner, executive director of ANDE.
The announcement was made at the ANDE annual conference, which is being held in Glen Cove from September 29 to October 1, 2014. The event is an annual gathering of more than 200 senior-level executives of ANDE member organizations, including leading investors, capacity development providers, foundations, banks, corporations, development finance institutions and research institutions from around the globe. This year Cathy Clark, co-author of the upcoming book The Impact Investor: Lessons in Leadership and Strategy for Collaborative Capitalism (Jossey-Bass; October 13) and lead faculty member at the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, will speak with Anne Field, award-winning writer on entrepreneurship and a Forbes contributor, during an evening reception on September 30.
For more information, please follow the conference conversation on Twitter at @AspenANDE and via the hashtag #ANDE2014.