ANDE Grows Small Businesses to Create Thriving Ecosystems

ANDE Grows Small Businesses to Create Thriving Ecosystems

Global entrepreneur network growth demonstrates need, says director

The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) is seeing rapid growth, showing there is an interest in supporting small and growing businesses (SGBs) in emerging markets, says Jenny Everett.

ANDE currently has 144 member organizations that are working to propel entrepreneurship in emerging markets. Members include foundations, funders and intermediaries.

“In the past two-and-a-half years we’ve grown really quickly, far exceeding our expectations and those of our founding members, which has really proven there’s a need and an interest in this field,” says Jenny, ANDE associate director.

Among ANDE members are Acumen Fund, B Lab, Calvert Foundation, Fair Trade USA, Grameen Foundation and Skoll Foundation.

The network is specifically focused on small businesses that fall into the “missing middle,” referring to the gap for businesses that are too large for microfinance but too small for traditional financing mechanisms. ANDE focuses on entrepreneurs who have businesses that could employ 20 to 2,000 people.

“We believe that small businesses are really crucial to long-term poverty alleviation because they create jobs, they create local wealth, they create goods and services to local communities, they create local informed tax bases, and bring all sorts of benefits to local communities,” Jenny says.

Small and medium-sized enterprises provide approximately 66 per cent of employment opportunities and generate 86 per cent of new jobs in developing countries.

ANDE is focused on growing enterprises, businesses that have the potential and interest to scale and grow, and with additional resources have the capacity to do that, says Jenny.

ANDE’s programs support knowledge sharing and networking, and include talent development programs to build skills within member organizations.

“At the end of the day, what we want is for any entrepreneur anywhere in the world to be able to find the resources necessary to help them launch a successful business,” she tells Axiom News. “The more support we see for this sector, the better.”

She notes there is increased interest in SGBs from different angles, such as the G20 SME Finance Challenge, which in 2010 called the private sector to unearth the best models for private-public partnerships to catalyze finance for small and medium-sized enterprises and give small entrepreneurs the chance to grow and scale up solutions.

ANDE has five active regional chapters — Brazil, Central America/Mexico, South Africa, East Africa, and India — which promote collaboration and knowledge sharing among local members and support regional activities. The next two chapters anticipated to be launched are West Africa and Columbia.

Jenny says it has been exciting to see the chapters evolve and thrive.

“Our long-term goal is to be building local, thriving ecosystems and to do that we need local investors and local capacity development providers,” she says.

Jenny says she is “constantly amazed” and impressed when ANDE members come together in a collaborative nature to build up the sector rather than thinking of themselves as competitors.

“A lot of what we do is around making those connections and bringing them together,” she says.

Among the many examples of ANDE members working together is TechnoServe and Root Capital, who co-created financial literacy training. The training is now available to other ANDE member organizations, with several participating in a train-the-trainer event.

Having recently hosted the 2011 ANDE Annual Conference Oct. 3-5, Jenny says the event is all about members sharing what they’re working on, the challenges they are seeing and to think big about solutions.

She notes the conference is intentionally kept small, with approximately 160 people attending this year from 100 organizations.

ANDE is housed within the Aspen Institute, an international non-profit that promotes enlightened leadership and is based in Washington, DC, Aspen, Colorado, and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Click here to learn more about ANDE.

If you have feedback on this article, please contact Jennifer at 800-294-0051 ext. 26 or e-mail


Writer Bio

Jennifer Neutel's picture
Jennifer Neutel

Jennifer Neutel is a Story Advocate and Generative Journalist at Axiom News. She completed her Bachelor of Journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa in 2006, and joined Axiom News in 2007. She has taken on a variety of roles at Axiom including new social media intiatives and has a passion for creating strengths-based questions that can lead to positive change.

Contact Jennifer:, or 705-741-4421 ext. 26.

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