The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) is focused on supporting small and growing businesses (SGBs) in developing countries that are too large for microfinance and too small for traditional bank loans and private equity. We are a global network housed at the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C., working with over 135 members in 150 developing countries to help fill this financial gap or “missing middle.” Our members invest capital and provide capacity development to commercially viable businesses, those with five to 250 employees, which have significant potential for growth but lack access to finance and knowledge resources. We believe that helping local entrepreneurs grow their businesses is the key to long-term poverty alleviation because small businesses generate jobs and prosperity.
What is the single most important step to creating a more established social capital market?
As Thomas Friedman aptly phrased it: “The world is flat.” We are living now at a crossroads, inundated with new information daily, experiencing economic unrest and demonstrations in countries around the world, and more recently, enduring weather upheavals. It’s a good time to re-examine how we approach problems and invent new solutions to social, financial and environmental challenges.
Although we can’t help influence governments or control weather, we are propelling entrepreneurship in emerging markets. What exactly does that mean? We represent an investment community of foundations, investment funds, non-governmental organizations, corporations and academic institutions committed to both social and financial returns in emerging markets. To achieve real change, we understand that collective action is needed. Our goal is to create a unified language for the SGB space, share transparent metrics and expand knowledge and training among members. ANDE hopes that the pursuit of these efforts will ensure a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem for SGBs around the world.