A conversation with Malacci Ohrt and Daniela Kaegi of ANDE’s Membership and Programs team on recent changes within ANDE’s membership and grantmaking processes to make them more equitable and accessible for smaller organizations based in the developing countries in which we work.
What changes has ANDE made to its membership tiers?
In February 2022, ANDE announced a new, lower tier for our membership dues. This new tier comes in at $1,250, half the price of the next tier, and targets organizations such as capacity development providers, investors, research and academic institutions that are based in a developing country and have an annual operating budget of under $250,000.
We have had many conversations over the past year or more with our senior management, regional staff, and members, and realized there are so many smaller organizations that want to be a part of ANDE. However, one of their main barriers to entry was our membership fees.
Almost half of our membership base is headquartered in developing countries, and we want to make sure we are including organizations of all shapes and sizes that have something to contribute to supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Understanding that there is a need within these regional ecosystems to connect with a wide network and tap into appropriate resources is important for ANDE’s ultimate goal of supporting small and growing businesses.
We started this process of evaluating what a new tier would look like and making sure it was up to industry standards, ultimately to allow more small organizations to join our network. ANDE has always employed a tiered membership structure to be sure that members with more access to financing are subsidizing those with less access. This additional tier expands that model to be as inclusive as possible.
What changes has ANDE made to its grantmaking processes?
Similarly, ANDE has been piloting new application processes for our recent funding opportunities, starting with the Advancing Women’s Empowerment Fund in Africa in 2020, that are inclusive for smaller organizations who may not have the bandwidth to put together a long or detailed application, or wouldn’t otherwise qualify.
First, we revisited the structure of the applications and the information needed from organizations. We restructured the process into two stages: first, a call for short concept notes, and then requesting full proposals from a shortlist of applicants. Applicants can also submit in alternative formats that may be easier for them to create – in addition to a text option, we now accept PowerPoint presentations or video submissions. Organizations can also submit documents in their local language (Portuguese, Spanish, French), which allows those who may not have as strong English language skills to apply.
In one of our recent funding opportunities, we conducted interviews instead of a detailed written proposal, which can be lengthy and time consuming. It was nice to get to know the people behind the projects and have them explain it themselves, rather than reading an often dry document!
We believe in giving funding where possible to smaller or local organizations. It can have a much greater overall impact, because the money can be revolutionary for a small budget, and it gives them a track record of funding for future proposals. We are proud that ANDE’s recent regranting facilities have been able to provide funding to a diverse group of grantees.
What moments in particular made ANDE realize we wanted to make our membership more equitable for smaller organizations?
Many organizations across the SGB sector and beyond have faced severe budgetary constraints due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and as a result we saw a slight drop in our membership numbers, specifically with regional members. Smaller organizations did want to join, but COVID-19 meant additional challenges in being able to be part of the network. So we wanted to re-evaluate how to support those smaller organizations as well.
COVID-19 also meant significant problems with organizations not being able to receive grants from funders experiencing their own budgetary constraints–these challenges were shared across organization types. In response, the project team held additional information sessions in multiple languages, trying to lower barriers to receiving proper funding to support their local entrepreneurial ecosystem. Overall, we knew that more than ever before, we needed to implement a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) lens to our funding opportunities to make sure that smaller organizations were receiving the necessary financial support to move projects along.
How will these changes affect existing members within ANDE? And what should prospective members know about the changes?
With the addition of a new membership tier, current members who meet the criteria can adjust their membership accordingly. We encourage current members to reach out to the membership team should they have any questions or want to check whether they meet the new criteria.
Regarding grantmaking, we try to keep our full subscriber list informed when we put out a request for proposals on a new funding opportunity. We always specify what specific criteria are taken into consideration when reviewing applications, and try to ensure that we are making our funding accessible to organizations of all sizes and geographies. However, it is important to note that some sources of funding, specifically if we are partnering with a government institution, have many rules and regulations attached to the grants which may be challenging for some organizations to fulfill. We try to be as transparent as possible about the process and requirements for receiving funds and reporting on projects.
Why should smaller local organizations join ANDE? How can they benefit the most from it?
There is a distinct difference between what members can get out of the network compared to other stakeholders in the SGB sector. While all organizations are eligible for most funding, some opportunities provided by private foundations are only accessible to members. Our eight regional chapters provide connections, opportunities, and resources tailored to specific geographies, and we have so many opportunities for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and networking through our learning labs, action labs, and learning communities around numerous issue areas.
The benefits of being a member are really unmatched. Being able to tap into a rich network of key sector players, all the way from investors to capacity development providers, make for rich conversations because you are really tackling challenges from various points of view, so putting those perspectives together is quite valuable.
Members can also benefit from the wide array of resources we provide. We prioritize members in our training programs, such as our regular Investment Manager Training. These trainings can have a different global or regional focus, which is great because it contextualizes the curriculum and makes it relevant to whatever geography they are working in.
Finally, ANDE membership also gives access to a wide variety of communications channels to share announcements and opportunities from across the sector, from our social media channels and newsletters to our website. We love fostering connection among the ecosystem and making sure that everyone can stay up to date on developments and insights about the sector.
How do these changes reflect ANDE’s broader thinking around issues in diversity, equity, and inclusion? And what has feedback been so far?
When it comes to membership, almost half of our network is comprised of members headquartered in a developing country. We want to ensure that all of ANDE’s work is grounded in the local context and informed by the people who know their countries best–and that we are strengthening local organizations and leaders.
To that end, we made sure to include our regional chapter staff and steering committees in these discussions and decision-making. They drove the criteria we should set, ensuring that the changes were both realistic to ANDE’s business model and successfully able to attract the type of members and grantees we want to be part of ANDE’s work. Feedback so far has been really positive and we hope that new members see that as well.
What are some of the impacts you hope to see on SGBs in the long run as more organizations are able to access membership and grants?
A long term goal is to make sure we are equipping more entrepreneurial support organizations with the resources and partnerships they need to help catalyze small and growing businesses. There are just so many ways that being part of the network can make intermediaries more effective and bolster the overall SGB sector.
We really do see these changes as a pilot. We are continually seeing what works, taking time to collect feedback, reevaluating, and using that to make additional changes to support our members and achieve our mission.