The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) is a global network of organizations that support small and growing businesses (SGBs) in emerging markets by dramatically increasing the amount and effectiveness of capital and capacity development services for entrepreneurs. ANDE’s membership includes investment funds, non-governmental organizations, research institutions, and private philanthropic foundations that invest money and expertise to help entrepreneurs develop and grow small businesses in emerging markets. Members operate in over 130 countries.
Founded in 2009, ANDE aspires to be the leading convener and conduit for organizations and individuals committed to building SGBs in the developing world. ANDE also acts as a trusted advocate for the SGB sector, educating investors and policy makers about the extraordinary opportunity the sector represents. In 2010, ANDE launched regional chapters in Brazil, Central America & Mexico, South Africa, East Africa and India. Regional chapter members meet regularly to provide peer support and professional development, work collectively on regional specific initiatives, and partner with other regional like-minded organizations to promote a healthy eco-system for SGBs.
ANDE supports peer-to-peer learning and capability development through a variety of member services. Among these, the ANDE Capacity Development Fund (CDF) seeks to increase the productivity and effectiveness of ANDE members, while creating tools and insights that can help the SGB sector as a whole. Proposals must demonstrate how building the capacity of individual members can be internalized (essential) and shared with other members (strongly encouraged). The latter criteria aims at breaking down silos between development organizations, to promote learning and greater collective effectiveness. Examples of CDF projects include:
- ANDE member Root Change received a grant to trained a global network of capacity development providers, named Innovation Scouts, to identify new investment opportunities and lead opportunity screening workshops.
- The Small Banking Business Network (SBBN) created the first of its kind, industry-wide community for small business banking institutions. The SBBN Portal serves as a knowledge networking platform where small business bankers serving emerging markets can exchange tools, approaches, and ideas. The SBBN will hold in-person annual roundtables to discuss relevant issues and continue to extend its reach.
- A project by Santa Clara University’s Global Social Benefit Incubator aims to enhance ANDE member cooperation across diverse funding classes. The report ‘Coordinating Impact Capital,’ published in July 2011, suggested terms for broader cooperation among different types of impact investors, and is being disseminated across the ANDE membership.
ANDE’s efforts to measure the impact of members’ work is core to the organization, and significant learning occurs because of it. One of the ANDE governing principles is for all members to participate in reporting common social and financial indicators to help the sector build understanding of the work that is happening. By doing so, ANDE can provide aggregated data to benchmark individual performance and measure the sector as a whole.
Through a strategic partnership with the Impact Reporting and Investment Standards (IRIS) initiative, ANDE members collectively benchmark performance and assess overall social and environmental impact. ANDE members also have the opportunity to work with ANDE’s Impact Assessment Manager on their metrics and evaluations efforts. Finally, ANDE hosts a metrics and evaluation conference annually to discuss the challenges and best practices of collecting, reporting, and disseminating impact. This annual conference convenes leading experts on metrics and evaluation and produces dialogue that spurs action.
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of case studies on Innovation Communities being created by the Kellogg Innovation Network here at Innovation Excellence. They would sincerely appreciate it if you would contact them if you know about INets that they should consider including in their database. If you’re a leader of an INet, they will invite you to join a gathering of INet leaders that they hope to arrange next year, to review the findings of the study and take this research to the next level: What are lessons to be learned in creating INets and making them successful? It’s kind of the meta-meta level. Innovation results are the base. INets are the first meta level, which is learning about how to manage innovation to produce results. And if we can form a network of INets, that will be about learning about how to produce powerful new learning environments.
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Mike Lippitz is a Research Fellow with the Center for Research in Technology and Innovation at the Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Illinois, and a Senior Policy Analyst with the Institute for Defense Analyses in Washington, DC. Prior positions include Special Assistant for Strategic Technology Planning in the Office of Director for Defense Research and Engineering, US Department of Defense and product line manager at Hewlett-Packard Company.