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COVID response spawns network to support Latin American entrepreneurs

ImpactAlpha, Sept. 23This spring, organizations supporting entrepreneurs in Latin American scrambled to help small and growing businesses survive the COVID disruption. This fall, they’re turning their new collaboration into an ongoing network.

The more than 50 organizations that created Emprendedores Frente al COVID-19 (Entrepreneurs Facing COVID-19) are working together to share resources and coordinate support for entrepreneurs.

The Latin American ecosystem can show the rest of the world there is a better way to do business and it’s collaborative,” Agora Partnerships’ Cecilia Foxworthy told ImpactAlpha. “We can create inclusive prosperity if we work together.”

The network’s task force also includes Sistema B Central America, Banca Sostenible, Impacto in Ecuador and Kunan in Peru, and is supported by Argidius Foundation in Switzerland. Many of the organizations also are part of the World Economic Forum’s COVID Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs launched this month.

  • System-poor. The fragmented entrepreneurial support ecosystem in Latin America has required entrepreneurs to work with multiple small organizations to get the support they need. The region is “program-rich and system-poor,” says Foxworthy, who takes over as CEO from Agora founder Ben Powell on Oct. 16. Powell said European and U.S. ecosystem investors have mostly focused on Africa, forcing entrepreneur support organizations, or ESOs, in Latin America to be nimble and scrappy. Now, he says, “Latin America wants to do something amazing and export it to the world.”
  • State of the market. As part of its ongoing annual conference, the Aspen Network for Development Entrepreneurs will launch its report on impact investing in Latin America later today with an event at 4pm ET. Register here

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