At last year’s Annual Conference, when we celebrated ANDE’s tenth anniversary, we could never have predicted that the next Annual Conference (and most of ANDE’s other 2020 events) would have to go virtual. However, like the rest of our network, the coronavirus pandemic forced us to evaluate our programming and look at ways we could provide the same value given these new constraints. Thanks to some hard work, new tech skills, and the patience and continued dedication of our incredible members, we consider the first virtual Annual Conference a success!
This year, we welcomed around 250 participants across 148 organizations and 42 countries; our 49 speakers and moderators alone spanned sixteen countries.
In response to ANDE’s strategy and current events, the conference focused on four thematic pillars: Climate and Environmental Action; Gender Equality; Decent Work and Economic Growth; and Diversity and Equity in Action.
The conference this year featured six plenary sessions, fifteen solution salons, eight asset mapping sessions, four “campfire” activities, the Fail Faire, and a member awards show, spread over two daily time blocks over three days.
Highlights of the action-packed agenda include:
- Welcome and State of the Sector: Managing Director Jenny Everett gave an update on ANDE’s progress over the past year and our network’s impressive and rapid responses to support SGBs through COVID. Director of Research and Impact Matthew Guttentag, moonlighting as a game show host, quizzed participants on the state of the SGB sector. Finally, Executive Committee Chair Carol Dahl chatted with ANDE’s new Executive Director Richenda Van Leeuwen about her vision for ANDE and what she brings to the organization from her previous work in energy and the environmental sphere.
- Entrepreneur Journeys: Four entrepreneurs shared their stories and pinpointed their greatest needs. Vere Shaba of Greendesign, Yvonne Otieno of Miyonga Fresh Greens, Antonio Pita of Diaspora.Black, and Daniela Ancira of La Cana reminded us why we do what we do, inspiring the ANDE community to reflect on ways to effectively support SGBs. Beyond access to finance, they noted the need for teams with diverse skills, access to markets, legal support, financial management support, access to technology, and mental and emotional support.
- Fail Faire: Five ANDE members were brave enough to share their stories of failure, reminding us that we’re not alone. We heard stories about scaling too fast, overdependence on investor resources, and more. Lessons learned included ensuring strong IMM practices, as “what gets measured gets managed,” seriously considering staff capacity and commitment to change when rolling out new programs, and the importance of co-creation—acting as a coach but avoiding being too prescriptive.
- Future of the Sector: Nicole Etchart of NESsT spoke with Payal Dalal of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and Jimmy Bettcher of Partners in Food Solutions in the first session and Anita Ramachandran of MicroMentor and Ernesto Herrera of Reforestamos Mexico in the second session about the future of the SGB sector. What is our vision of the SGB sector during the COVID-19 recovery phase, what are we doing to achieve it, and how do we scale that impact?
- Member Awards show: Asha Impact was named the organizational Member of the Year, and Henrique Bussacos was named individual Member of the Year. Congratulations to these and all the other winners! During this session we also thanked Executive Committee Chair Carol Dahl (The Lemelson Foundation) and EC members Olivier Lafourcade (Investisseurs & Partenaires) and Nicole Etchart (NESst) for their invaluable contributions to ANDE over their terms; and welcomed Osayi Alile (ACT Foundation), Nicholas Colloff (Argidius Foundation), Myrtille Danse (Netherlands Food Partnership), Rebecca Harrison (African Management Institute), Juan Carlos Thomas (TechnoServe), and new Chair Ricardo Michel (FHI Partners) to new terms on the committee, beginning in January 2021.
- Solution Salons: Fifteen solution salons on the conference’s four thematic pillars each featured an ANDE member organization presenting a challenge—from mobilizing capital for climate solutions to improving access to finance for LGBTQIA+ entrepreneurs—after which participants worked together to discuss and brainstorm solutions and choose one to advance to the asset mapping sessions.
- Asset Mapping: Eight asset mapping sessions, two per thematic pillar, took the top ideas from the Solution Salons and went further, identifying existing resources in those areas and identifying areas for future collaboration. We look forward to following up on all of these commitments!
- Speed networking: It turns out speed networking works quite well over Zoom—or at least it cuts the conversation off quickly! It’s always great to have the opportunity to catch up one-on-one with other ANDE members.
- “Campfire” activities: Olusegun Alimi of LEAP Africa spoke about mindfulness; Maia Gedde of Mowgli Mentoring shared about her tiny house in Rwanda and gave everyone food for thought on imagining their own; Lauren Green of Lizard Brain shared her favorite energizers for virtual meetings; and Renata Truzzi of NESsT walked us through the human centered design approach by having us design the perfect coffee cup.