Tell us about edge growth and its role in the business ecosystem.

We founded Edge Growth in 2007. We boost impact by scaling SMEs. Our three main businesses include impact investment, where we manage $100 million in capital with over 90 investments in small businesses. We focus on previously disadvantaged or minority founders in South Africa. We also provide capacity building, supporting 80 to 200 small businesses annually. Our third business, NXT-9, is an online platform that gives capacity builders a potent toolkit for helping SMEs to grow.

Please tell us a bit about why you created the tool NXT-9 and what problems you are looking to address.

For over 16 years, we’ve supported entrepreneurs in scaling their businesses and gained insight into common scaling challenges. We’re passionate about helping small businesses overcome these hurdles, as scaling is crucial for all the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Many need help transitioning from hands-on management to building a team-led company, often making critical mistakes. Scaling becomes even harder for businesses with ten employees or more.

“The reality is we won’t achieve the Sustainable Development Goals unless we help innovative, small business scale.”

We’ve observed that effective advisors, or capacity builders, can greatly assist in scaling – as many ANDE members know. However, entrepreneurs in emerging markets underutilize these services, limiting growth and impact. Additionally, capacity builders struggle to generate sufficient revenue.

With NXT-9, we address both issues by leveraging technology to guide entrepreneurs in scaling and helping capacity builders generate more demand and revenue.

How can capacity builders use this tool in their work?

We designed NXT-9 for small, growing businesses with more than ten employees. Capacity builders working with clients of this size can add NXT-9 to their toolkits.

Capacity builders can sign up for free, use NXT-9 to assess their clients’ organizations and auto-generate a tailored business building plan. The tool provides a granular and accurate assessment of the client’s strengths and weaknesses. This, in turn, enables NXT-9 AI to automatically generate a precise business-building plan tailored to each client’s needs and growth stage. Capacity Builders can further customize the plan.

NXT-9 also provides curated content recommendations to support clients in addressing specific problems they might face in implementing the plan. The tool helps capacity builders become more effective and add value to their clients. While there is a subscription fee for clients, capacity builders can use NXT-9 for free unless they decide to absorb the monthly fee themselves.

What about the tool would you describe as revolutionary?

There are two key revolutionary aspects of the tool. Firstly, it is the first tool we know of to use basic artificial intelligence (AI) to help capacity builders be more effective at a lower cost. This allows them to add more value to their client base and attract and retain more clients while building a growing business of their own.

Secondly, imagine a capacity builder launching a program to support 100 small businesses over the next few months. Theoretically, with NXT-9, within just two hours of starting, they can obtain a comprehensive diagnostic, a version-one scale-up plan, and a fully tailored learning plan for each manager in all 100 businesses.

Additionally, they’ll receive just-in-time recommendations on master classes, guidelines, and toolkits tailored to each manager. All in 2 hours! That’s quite revolutionary! In practice, human response times will make the process slower, but the technology enables that speed of value delivery.

How do you see NXT–9 evolving in the future?

We’re developing “B:OSS” (Build your Operating System for Scale), an exciting game-changing feature for small businesses and capacity builders. It addresses the consistent challenge of management teams struggling to prioritize and execute vital tasks due to distractions and urgent demands. B:OSS introduces a gamified process leveraging behavioral science, similar to Strava, to build a culture and set of personal and team habits to execute priorities. It shapes management structures, processes, systems, and culture for effective scaling. Enabled by a WhatsApp interface and online app, B:OSS helps overwhelmed managers allocate attention to their most strategic objectives. The B:OSS feature is in Beta right now. We aim to release it publicly in the fourth quarter of this year.

How can ANDE members get involved or access the tool?

ANDE members can access NXT-9 at On the Business Coaches page they can sign up to experience the platform, or schedule a meeting with our coach advocate for a demo and receive any further guidance and support they might need. They can try NXT-9 with one or two client organizations, adding value through the platform’s insights. All business growth content is freely available to capacity builders. ANDE members can set up a free account to access these resources.

What are you most excited about?

We’re excited about the opportunity to support exceptional capacity builders worldwide so we can ultimately help one million small businesses scale. We aim to assist capacity builders in acquiring more clients, delivering better results, and fostering ecosystem maturity.

“We’re really excited about the idea of helping one million small businesses scale by partnering with really great capacity builders all over the world.”

We anticipate increased utilization of capacity builders, coaches, and advisors by small businesses using NXT-9, leading to thriving businesses, improved performance, job creation, and ultimately improve lives. That’s what truly excites us.

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