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Welcome to the Publications Library! Here you will find a searchable index of reports, toolkits, research papers, and other resources relevant to the Small and Growing Business Sector. Sort by clicking on the relevant tags, or by typing in key words in the box below.


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New Horizons: How Inclusive Business is Helping Achieve the SDGs in the Philippines

Posted By Sebastian de Beurs, Aspen Institute, Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, February 7, 2018

This report by Business Call to Action describes the Philippines’’ progress towards achieving the sustainable development goals. The authors introduce the current state of inclusive business in the Philippines, describe ongoing opportunities across sectors, and offer a call to action for scaling up inclusive business impacts on the SDGs in the Philippines.

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Lasting Impact: The Need for Responsible Exits | GIIN

Posted By Sebastian de Beurs, Aspen Institute, Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Lasting Impact report demonstrates why and how investors attempt to safeguard the continuity of their investments’ impact beyond exit. The report draws on insights from interviews with over 30 investors and entrepreneurs and outlines practical approaches to achieving responsible exits. Four case studies provide in-depth examples of responsible exits from impact investments. The report reveals investors’ strategies to strengthen their ability to meet liquidity objectives and ensure the long-term impact of their investments. These approaches span the lifecycle of the investment, including: pre-investment, at the time of investment, during the investment, and at the time of exit. The report was sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and The Global Impact Investing Network.

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Nuevos Horizontes: Acelerando el Desarrollo Sostenible a través de los Negocios Inclusivos en Colombia

Posted By Sebastian de Beurs, Aspen Institute, Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, February 7, 2018
La Agenda 2030 y sus 17 Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible -ODS, hacen un llamado a la acción al sector privado, para que contribuyan con soluciones empresariales que generen negocios comercialmente rentables involucrando en ellos a la Población Base de la Pirámide -BdP. Esta solución enfocada al diseño de modelos viables y sostenibles, se denomina Negocios Inclusivos. Esta publicación busca identificar y presentar las oportunidades de los Negocios Inclusivos como vehículo para acelerar el logro de los ODS por parte del sector privado, como agentes de cambio hacia el desarrollo sostenible en Colombia.

Download the Full Report Here.

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Beyond the Binary: Delivering PROFIT & PURPOSE Through CORPORATE VENTURING

Posted By Carly Giddings, Aspen Institute, Monday, January 8, 2018
The purpose of the Beyond the Binary project is to understand and articulate why corporate venturing should matter to corporations and how they might deploy their underutilized capital in pursuit of both profit and purpose. This will involve a deeper understanding of why some companies are holding this cash while others are spending it. It also involves telling the stories of those businesses who are successfully unlocking cash reserves by sharing first-hand accounts, through video interviews with the CV practitioners themselves. Ultimately, this project aims to create long-term impact by inspiring more corporations to allocate more of their capital towards corporate venturing activities which align with the SDGs.

Download the full report here


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Entrepreneurship & Acceleration: Questions from the Field (Funding)

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Entrepreneurship & Acceleration: Questions from the Field
Funding Accelerator Programs

December 2017

by the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs and Social Enterprise @ Goizueta, Emory University

The GALI team consistently hears questions from accelerators and others in the field about financial sustainability. In this brief, we ask:

How do accelerators fund their programs, and how do different funding profiles relate to different accelerator offerings?

Tags:  2017  accelerators  ANDE publication  GALI 

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The Preschool Promise

Posted By Carly Giddings, Aspen Institute, Thursday, December 14, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Preschool Holds the Promise to Transform Learning Outcomes for India's Working Poor

As the foundation for learning, preschool has the ability to set children on a path of educational success. In India, 86 percent of working poor (low-income) parents (who make up 70 percent of the urban population) invest in private preschooling for their children, which they believe can help improve their child’s academic prospects. Unfortunately, the current quality of preschooling is extremely poor, leading to poor learning outcomes through high school.  

By shifting parents' expectations toward high-quality preschooling, the quality of education being delivered by affordable private schools could be transformed. We surveyed over 4,000 of these parents to understand their beliefs and behaviors that are driving outcomes todayranging from how they choose schools to how they gauge academic progressin order to identify how change can be achieved.  

Our research uncovers several opportunities to leverage existing beliefs and motivations among low-income parentsparticularly the demand for English and mathematics skillsin order to spread high-quality preschooling in a sustainable manner at scale.

Key Takeaways:

  • Low-income parents care deeply about their child’s education and, despite the availability of free public options, are investing about 6 percent of household income per child on core preschooling-related expenses in private schools. A quarter of parents are also investing in tuition classes to further support their child’s academic progress, spending an additional 2 percent of household income. 
  • Of the parents who had chosen private providers, 78 percent had opted for an "English-medium" provider and were paying a 28 percent premium on core preschool expenses. This reflects their views about which skills are needed for success in grade school and to secure a white-collar office job—an aspiration for many working poor.  
  • Parents have 4 primary criteria when choosing a preschool provider: (1) English-medium (i.e. English is the main language of instruction), (2) Attached (i.e. provides classes beyond preprimary), (3) Close to home (i.e. is within 10 minutes of travel time from home) and (4) quality (using word-of-mouth recommendations and the school’s reputation).  
  • Parents want to know their child is learning, but there is a crucial gap between what parents expect their children to learn and the markers they are using to test learning. Currently, parents are gauging their child's learning by using "wrong" markers (e.g., can my child recite numbers up to 20). By shifting parents' expectations toward looking for "right" markers of learning (e.g., can my child pick out 12 sticks from a stack of 20), schools will need to respond by shifting their practices to the activity-based approaches that support conceptual learning or risk losing those parents’ fees.

To read the report, click here

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State of Measurement in the SGB Sector

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, December 12, 2017

State of Measurement in the SGB Sector

by Brianna Losoya-Evora and Genevieve Edens, ANDE
Measurement practices are rapidly evolving in the small and growing business (SGB) sector, and organizations operating in this space may feel overwhelmed while trying to keep up with trends and best practices.

To better understand measurement practices in the SGB sector and to help organizations benchmark themselves against their peers, ANDE surveyed 30 members about their measurement practices as a follow-up to our 2014 paper.

Key Findings:

  • All investors and half of capacity development providers use IRIS.

  •  Half of our sample collects household data. Capacity Development Providers and Investors were equally likely to report collecting household data, but relatively few Africa-based organizations collect household level data.

  • Capacity development providers tend to focus on business performance outcomes for the SGB while investors more focus on the SGB reach and quality.

  • Nearly all respondents spent less than 5% of annual budget on measurement. Capacity Development Providers tend to spend a greater percentage of their budget.

  • Organizations that collect household-level data spend about the same on measurement as those that do not.

  • Over half of ANDE organizations surveyed said they have no full-time staff person dedicated to measurement.

  • Of the six Africa-based organizations who responded, only one had a full-time staff person dedicated to measurement, and none of the organizations surveyed in Latin America had a full-time staff person dedicated to measurement.

  • Members have gravitated to Salesforce because of its high level of customizability and affordable pricing for non-profit organizations. We did not ask specifically about Salesforce in our sample, but it was mentioned 25 times.

  • Two-thirds of the ANDE organizations surveyed receive grant funding for measurement, and just under half build the cost into their annual operating budgets.



Tags:  2017  ANDE publication  Data Collection  impact evaluation  impact measurement  indicator  metrics and research  Performance Measurement  SDGs 

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Posted By Liza Curcio, Aspen Institute, Monday, December 11, 2017


By LightCastle

There are around 2.7 billion people who live below U$ 2 a day. That’s 2 out of every 5. The total wealth distribution of the world has become extremely skewed. The richest 0.5% control over 35% of the total wealth. US and Europe collectively owns 60%+ of the world’s wealth. The rise of capitalism propelled by the industrial revolutions, world trade, technology, consumerism means that total resources of the world are controlled by those with economic might.

Multilateral agencies, INGOs, donor firms and local NGOs have all done a fantastic job in transitioning many developing countries into emerging economies. However, at the same time, as countries move into the rungs of middle income status, the development initiatives will begin to look for sustainability exits coupled with downward funding pressure as a follow-up of the financial meltdown, Eurozone crisis and shifts in economic policy.

Focus has invariably shifted towards building sustainable models where we work not in isolation, but hand in hand with entrepreneurs, investors and organizations to explore new markets, discover more customers, and, in the process, transform lives of the underserved 2.7 billion. The solution lies in bringing them as an integral part of the market economy, create employment and convert them into consumers; not keep them in fringes of the informal economy.

Working on myriad cases of inclusive business projects over the past five years, we have gathered deep insights to be able to create and test a robust tool that works in the context of Bangladesh. The goal of the publication is to inspire social ventures adequately serve the bottom of the pyramid by leveraging this robust framework, which allows for a detailed list of factors ensuring viability, sustainability and scalability.

Download the report here.

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Posted By Liza Curcio, Aspen Institute, Monday, December 11, 2017
We launched the third in our country-focused inclusive business report series in Bogota, Colombia to an audience of private sector actors, donors, government and UN agency representatives on 30 November 2017.
The new report, which joins previous reports published in Kenya and the Philippines this year, outlines the role that private sector can play in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and improving the lives of low income Colombians.
The report finds that with over a quarter of all Colombians living below the poverty line, efforts to tackle poverty and improve living, working and health conditions must be stepped up if Colombia is to achieve its SDG commitments by 2030. In his opening remarks, UNDP Colombia Country Director Pablo Ruiz highlighted the important role that companies can play – especially in their ability to innovate to address issues of poverty and social impact – as key players in achieving the SDGs in Colombia.  

Download the report here.

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At the heart of impact measurement: listening to customers

Posted By Liza Curcio, Aspen Institute, Friday, December 8, 2017

At the heart of impact measurement: listening to customers
By the impact programme 

Understanding customer needs is especially critical for enterprises aiming to create social impact, however most impact measurement practice relies on assumptions (“output” measurement). We tend to count the widgets we produce in the world and assume those widgets do wonderful things. By contrast, direct data collection from end- customers across what are known as “outcomes” — the material positive or negative impact of a product or service — remains rare. Without better information, we limit our ability to maximise the impact we create in the world. 


So why is more-progressive measurement so unusual? Many asset managers and their portfolio companies still see social-impact data collection as a burden something they do to satisfy reporting requirements. But when we reframe the conversation so that it’s about customer centricity and unlocking business and social value, notions of burden begin to recede. 


Overcoming the perception that impact measurement is an obligation rather than an opportunity is one focus of the Impact Programme, funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) which aims to catalyse the market for impact investment in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The programme is undertaking research on the social outcomes of the Impact Fund, one of its investment vehicles, managed by the CDC Group, the the UK’s development finance institution. It is starting with a Ghana-based portfolio company and, together with Acumen’s Lean Data team, we aimed to apply customer centricity to better understand social value. This initial work has continued to strengthen our conviction that for commercially successful, impact- creating companies, investors and enterprises alike overstate the dichotomy between impact and business data. We can learn much about social performance by unpacking consumer and supplier behaviour, and listening for useful feedback. By focusing on uncovering the “why” of what customers do and do not value, this approach improves companies’ ability to glean insights it can turn into action. 


Of course, customer centricity is not a silver bullet for measuring impact, but it holds much promise for understanding social performance while simultaneously collecting data to further business goals. 


The following case study shares practical guidance on how to use customer centricity to meet data collection needs for both business and social performance measurement.


Download the report here. 

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