Partnering in a Pandemic: A Recap of What We Learned Through Our Workshop Series With ACT Foundation

Entrepreneurship in developing economies is tough, but there is no doubt that the pandemic made it twice as hard. A report released by the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) in May 2020 showed a significant risk of widespread SGB failure in developing economies.

Given these challenges, the ANDE West Africa chapter, together with the ACT Foundation, hosted a series of virtual workshops addressing urgent challenges and issues related to the entrepreneurial ecosystem. We had a total of 9 workshops spanning from best fundraising practices for development organizations to innovative deal structuring in times of crisis and a whole lot more.

Here’s just a sneak peek of what we learned from each workshop:

  1. On fundraising best practices for development organizations, we had a two-part series where we explored the fundraising process from initial meeting to closing, tips to creating successful matchmaking between organizations and funders and the fundraising trends in light of COVID-19.
  2. On innovative deal structuring in time of crisis, we discussed the constraints around the prevailing investment deal structuring models and examined some alternative structures that impact investors can consider.
  3. On impact measurement, we examined how to develop a theory of change to define an organization’s impact objectives and identify what to measure in a remotely disseminated survey.
  4. On unlocking early-stage investments in emerging economies through crowdfunding, we examined the potential of crowdfunding in helping early-stage businesses overcome some of their financial constraints and examined how one can set up a crowdfunding program.
  5. On food security and nutrition – innovation in agri-business value-chain, we looked at areas and opportunities for improvement in agribusiness models including Technical Assistance (TA), smart capital (stimulus funds, advance credit, recoverable grants), research/development, Crowdfunding, e-commerce and insurance.
  6. On the SGB investment pipeline continuum, we examined the various activities involved in developing the investment pipeline from “sourcing” to “impact,” and also highlighted how stakeholders could improve connectivity between the actors in the Investment pipeline: Incubators, Accelerators, Business Development Support Providers, and Investors.
  7. On building corporate partnerships during and post COVID-19, we explored the path which many Corporates adopt in finding a partner, and highlighted how Entrepreneurial Support Organizations (ESOs) can partner with corporates for non-financial support, core program funding, consulting services and fee for service.
  8. On adapting organizational operations for high impact, we examined the need for organizations to adapt their administrative functions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, including virtual and hybrid strategies managing disperse teams, event management and program implementation.

These are just highlights of the different sessions. There are a lot more interesting lessons in the recap videos. Over the next year, we will be continuing the workshop series focusing on scaling acceleration and business development services, collaboration, impact measurement and management, fundraising and partnerships, thanks to the generous support from the Aspire Coronation Trust (ACT) Foundation.