Going Digital: Exploring the Value of Virtual Entrepreneur Support in Africa

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“During the pandemic, entrepreneur support organizations quickly pivoted and began offering many of their services virtually. The vast majority (77%) of support organizations within ANDE’s membership reported adjusting their programming to continue to operate in a pandemic context. Now that lockdowns have largely ended and economic activity is recovering, support organizations need to decide whether to continue with virtual entrepreneurial support, revert to in-person mode, or adopt a hybrid approach to retain the benefits of both virtual and in-person programming. To understand the effectiveness of virtual support during this forced experimentation period, ANDE used surveys and interviews to gather perspectives from both entrepreneurs and intermediaries on what worked – and what did not – in the shift to virtual programming. The report examines how smooth or cumbersome the shift to virtual programming was for support organizations, the ramifications of that shift on the composition of participating entrepreneurs and program content, entrepreneurs’ satisfaction levels with virtual programming, and potential explanations for divergent satisfaction levels between the various programs that participated in the study. Finally, this report summarizes lessons learned and provides recommendations for support organizations striving to improve virtual programming in the future. This research was made possible with the generous support from Make-IT in Africa, a project implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).