September 30, 2021
Looking Back on the 2021 Annual Conference

We had such a great Annual Conference in 2020, that we decided to bring it back for another year of virtual dance parties, meaningful discussions, and making new connections!

This year, we welcomed around 170 participants across 130 organizations and 45 countries. And like last year, our geographic representation was high given the ease of participating from a home office, living room, or kitchen table!

Thanks to our wonderful ANDE members, this year’s conference agenda was purposefully created around the conference theme: Connect, Learn, and Inspire. We enjoyed 6 workshops, 13 showcases, 2 Entrepreneur Journeys sessions, 12 topics for Cafe Conversations, speed networking sessions and 26 booths at the first ever ANDE Expo.

Highlights of the three-day conference include:

  • Welcoming Remarks and Trivia: ANDE’s Executive Director, Richenda Van Leeuwen, provided a warm welcome to kick off the Annual Conference, followed by a rousing bout of trivia hosted by ANDE’s Director of Research and Impact, Matthew Guttentag.
  • Keynote speech: Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO of Sustainable Energy for All, spoke about climate entrepreneurship and what we need to do to achieve SDG7 by 2030. We learned that we can create 3.5 times more jobs using renewables than fossil fuels. In addition, local businesses and entrepreneurs play a key role in bridging the energy access gap, but need financial instruments directed to them. These were just some of the learnings from Damilola’s keynote address.
  • Entrepreneur Journeys: Five entrepreneurs joined us for the crowd favorite Entrepreneur Journey sessions, where they shared their stories and how they have grown through their challenges. We heard from Juan Pablo Duque of Equilibria, Tahira Nizari of Kazi Yetu, Aruna Sampige from Roots Reform, Marcelo Franca of Celcoin, and Thandeka Xaba of Digital Africa Ventures. We learned that entrepreneurs need technical and tailored support, flexibility, accessibility, and the passion and creativity to stay true to their “why.”
  • Workshops: Six workshops were held throughout the conference, each facilitated by an ANDE member, on topics such as how business models can help tackle waste and networks critical role in strengthening business ecosystems.
  • Café Conversations: New this year to the Annual Conference, twelve café conversations were held. These conversations, meant to mimic dinner party discussion, covered topics such as increasing access to climate finance and supporting the acceleration of digitalization efforts of SGBs during COVID.
  • Showcases and Expos: Also new this year, the Annual Conference held three showcase sessions featuring thirteen ANDE members answering the question, “How have we…?” Each showcase was followed by an expo, where ANDE members were able to interact with conference participants via virtual booths.
  • Speed Networking: One ANDE member Annual Conference favorite is speed networking, and this year was no exception. It is always wonderful to have the opportunity to meet and connect with ANDE members whether in person or as in the case this year, virtually.
  • Entrepreneurs must digitalize their businesses. Now there’s a new tool to help. In partnership with the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, ANDE launched a new assessment tool to help SGBs and the organizations that support them think about the steps they may need to take on their digitalization journey and identify potential actions to take. Bonus: check out a new video about why digitalization matters and what ANDE members are doing about it.  
  • ANDE is thrilled to announce that we’re partnering with USAID Guatemala on the Guatemala Entrepreneurship Development Initiative (GEDI) to bring economic prosperity to communities heavily affected by migration. GEDI will offer innovative solutions to strengthen local entrepreneurial ecosystems and open a regranting facility to support organizations in filling some ecosystem gaps. Thank you Alterna, Argidius Foundation, Ascenda, DT Institute, Friendship Bridge, Ford Foundation, Fundea, Grupo IDC, Heifer, Olam, PriceSmart, Pomona Impact, Root Capital, Starbucks Target Foundation and Valhalla Capital for joining ANDE in this initiative.