The Argidius Foundation is a private foundation established in 2008 that focuses on fostering entrepreneurship and small business development in low-income countries. The foundation aims to empower individuals with the tools and resources they need to create sustainable businesses and generate income in their communities. Argidius works closely with local organizations, entrepreneurs, and ecosystem stakeholders to implement and support innovative programs that promote entrepreneurship.
One of the initiatives undertaken by the Argidius Foundation is the Arigidus SCALE (Supporting the Creation of Accelerators and Leadership in Entrepreneurship) research report. The Argidius Foundation, a long-time partner of The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE), gave us the privilege of disseminating their research report, which provides valuable insights into the challenges that early-stage entrepreneurs face in scaling their businesses. The report highlights the fact that many entrepreneurs struggle to take their businesses to the next level, often due to a lack of access to finance, limited management capacity, and inadequate networks. These challenges are not unique to Southern Africa, but they are particularly acute in our region, where entrepreneurs face a range of structural and systemic barriers to growth.
The Argidius SCALE research report and tools further acts as a valuable resource for entrepreneurs, investors, and ecosystem builders who are working to overcome these challenges. The report offers practical advice and guidance on how to support entrepreneurs in scaling their businesses, and the tools provide a framework for assessing the needs of entrepreneurs and identifying areas for support. The report is also a comprehensive study that assesses the impact of Entrepreneurial Support Organisations (ESOs) on small and growing businesses (SGBs) in developing economies. It provides a detailed analysis of the challenges faced by ESOs and offers invaluable recommendations for improving their effectiveness in supporting the growth of SGBs. One pivotal finding of the report emphasizes the significance of collaboration between ESOs and business development service providers.
While ESOs offer a range of services such as training, mentorship, and access to finance, they often lack specialized expertise in areas such as marketing, product development, and supply chain management. This is where business development service providers (BDSPs) come in, as they possess the necessary expertise but may lack the networks and reach of ESOs. The report highlights successful collaborations between ESOs and BDSPs, including the noteworthy partnership between TechnoServe and PUM Netherlands.
The Southern Africa Chapter recently hosted a captivating panel discussion on the dissemination of Argidius’s SCALE Report. The topic at hand was “Opportunities for collaboration between Entrepreneurial Support Organisations (ESOs) and business development service providers (BDSPs) to drive economic growth and job creation.” The event drew a remarkable turnout and received an overwhelming positive response, with ecosystem actors expressing tremendous enthusiasm about the potential for collaboration between ESOs and business development service providers.
At the onset, it is important for us to explain how we distinguish between (ESOs) and (BDSPs) who both have different roles in fostering economic growth and job creation. ESOs are organizations that provide support to entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses. They may be government agencies, non-profit organizations, or private companies. ESOs offer a range of services to businesses, such as business planning, mentoring, access to capital, market research, and networking opportunities. ESOs may also advocate for policies that support economic development and work to attract new businesses to their region.
On the contrary BDSPs, are organizations that provide specific business development services to entrepreneurs and small businesses. BDSPs may offer services such as marketing and sales support, product development, financial management, and supply chain management. In addition, BDSPs may be specialized consultants, industry associations, or even other small businesses. While both ESOs and BDSPs work to support economic growth and job creation, ESOs tend to offer a wider range of services and support policies that promote economic development, while BDSPs provide more specialized services to help businesses grow and succeed.
We were privileged to have the following distinguished speakers on our panel: Shingi Nyamwanza Bimha – Country Director, Technoserve; Colin LeShou – Executive Manager, Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA); Nomfundo Kafesu – Chief Financial Officer & Director of Strategy, Dream Factory Foundation; and Mzingaye Kahla – Chief Operating Officer, Riversands I-Hub. The esteemed panel featured exceptional speakers who shared their expertise and practical guidance on implementing practices that enhance the effectiveness of BDS programs, ultimately fuelling stimulating revenue growth and job creation for Small and Growing Businesses (SGBs).
The Panellists insights shed light on the transformative power of the Argidius Foundation’s SCALE principles:
🔹 Select the right enterprise
🔹 Charging enterprises improves their performance
🔹 Address problems: we learn best by problem solving
🔹 Learn by evaluating enterprise performance
🔹 Lead by example: Improve your own organization to better serve enterprises
During the panel discussion, attendees expressed their keen interest in the report’s findings and showcased a strong desire to foster collaboration between ESOs and BDSPs. When it came to the question-and-answer session, the attendees also had an opportunity to share their own experiences and challenges encountered when providing specialized business development services. Some of the challenges they faced where namely limited resources, and then lack of expertise in some fields There was a unanimous consensus that collaboration is indispensable for driving economic growth and job creation in emerging markets.
SGBs are the lifeblood of emerging markets, generating employment, income, and innovation. However, without the necessary support, they may struggle to reach their full potential. ESOs and business development service providers play a vital role in providing this support, but they cannot do it alone. Collaboration is the key to ensuring that small and growing businesses have access to the comprehensive range of services they need to succeed. Undoubtedly, the Argidius SCALE Report holds immense importance as it provides a roadmap for ESOs and business development service providers, guiding them on how to collaborate effectively in supporting small and growing businesses. The report’s practical and actionable recommendations can be tailored to meet the unique needs of each organization.