TechnoServe VP for Development Simon Winter speaks at ANDE training. (Photo by Brian Murray)
Last week, along with 40-plus other participants, the Acumen Fund summer associates participated in an energetic and informational training session run by the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE). ANDE is a member-driven organization whose goal is to dramatically increase the effectiveness of capital and technical assistance for entrepreneurs in developing countries. This training was a definitive step towards that goal.
For the second year in a row, ANDE has organized this training along with Acumen Fund, Root Capital, Grassroots Business Fund, Endeavor and many other members of ANDE. With the exploding interest in supporting Small and Growing Businesses (SGBs) as a means of alleviating poverty, the importance of coordinating and connecting those entering the field has never been more critical. Not only was the training immensely important to developing relationships across organizations; it also provided a forum to share best practices and to promote innovative thinking.
The two-day seminar was packed with a discussion of different business models, presentations on social metrics and hands-on case studies. As if any of the graduate-level interns needed more motivation heading into the sector, the opportunity to hear from amazing speakers such as Christine Eibs Singer from E+Co, Brian Midler and Namrita Kapur from Root Capital, Susie Lee from IGNIA, Raj Kundra, Sasha Dichter and Ann MacDougall from Acumen Fund, Simon Winter and Jennifer Golden from TechnoServe, Ben Powell and Ricardo Teran from Agora Partnerships was inspirational.
I was uplifted to meet our peers who are now heading into the field to countries such as Pakistan, Kenya, Rwanda, Ghana, Nicaragua and Guatemala. In particular, I was humbled and inspired by their backgrounds, skill sets and demonstrated passion for the work we will be undertaking. I hope that this foundation of collaboration is something we all push to continue beyond the training amongst ourselves and by including more people interested in the sector.
My personal highlights were:
Although not exactly applicable to those of us heading out into the field (safe return = certain), it is a reminder that we all need support, encouragement and community to help us through the hard times when things don’t seem possible and barriers appear impassable. I’m confident coming out of this training that this community is stronger than ever and I look forward to contributing.
For those of you who were at the training, please feel free to share your highlights in the comments section!