Climate Finance | September 25, 2019

To unlock entrepreneurship for development, ANDE turns to women, jobs and the environment

Dennis Price
ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

ImpactAlpha, Sept. 25 – For its 10th anniversary, the Aspen Network for Development Entrepreneurs gathered some of its 300 members to look ahead. The takeaway: ANDE is aligning its work around the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, and in particular, environmental action (SDG Nos. 6, 7 and 13), gender equality (No. 5) and jobs and economic growth (No. 8).

“We believe that small and growing businesses are relevant to every single Sustainable Development Goal,” ANDE’s Randall Kempner told ImpactAlpha.

Among the concrete steps: ANDE will distribute more than $1 million from a new Advancing Women’s Empowerment Fund to organizations working to close the financing gap for women-led businesses as part of a partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Visa Foundation.

Such businesses “can be an important channel through which women are able to improve their plight in society,” says Kempner.

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To incentivize and support businesses “to not just create jobs but create good jobs,” ANDE has launched the Small and Growing Business Evidence Fund with the International Growth Centre. The fund will support research to identify effective ways to unlock the economic and social impact of small and growing businesses.

The environment and climate haven’t been a large focus of emerging-market entrepreneurship, or at ANDE, Kempner says. “We have taken the decision to change that.”

Bounce-back in small and growing business investing, but capital gaps remain

  • Development entrepreneurship. ANDE has helped over the past decade to put emerging-market “small and growing businesses” on the global development map. ANDE has made the case that with access to markets, capital, talent and an enabling environment, entrepreneurs can build even more viable businesses, create good jobs, contribute to resilient local economies and deliver other social and environmental outcomes. 
  • Access to capital. More than 450 investment vehicles with $11 billion in committed capital have launched to invest in emerging market small and growing businesses, ANDE recounts in its 10-year “impact and influence” report. Still, says Kempner, there is very little local finance or investment vehicles available to small and growing businesses. In part through ANDE’s efforts, donor agencies have boosted the flow of funds to support entrepreneurship. 
  • Stocking the pipeline. Capital is just one challenge, says Kempner. “You still need to think about how you’re going to create a pipeline of investable companies.” Attracting and retaining talent and building effective business accelerators, he says “are directly relevant to the businesses themselves and how they can become businesses that will merit finance.”