In recent weeks, a spotlight has been shown on racial injustice, although the problem has persisted for centuries.
Intellecap, the advisory arm of The Aavishkaar Group, focuses on building businesses that can benefit underserved populations across Asia and Africa. Intellecap provides a range of consulting, research and investment banking services designed to make markets more equitable and inclusive.
As American small businesses continue to be squeezed by the fallout of the COVID-19 crisis, it is increasingly clear that the approximately $659 billion already committed by Congress won’t be enough. It is similarly unlikely that unprecedented spending by governments will be enough to turn back the tide in Europe and elsewhere. But as bad as things are for the private sector in the wealthiest nations, an even greater disaster looms over the small and growing businesses that represent the economic engine of the developing world—with no bailout in sight.
In May, the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs announced that its new Advancing Women’s Empowerment Fund will offer grants to eight organizations. With support from the US Agency for International Development and the Visa Foundation, the $1.2 million fund will target the finance gap for women-led small and growing businesses in South and Southeast Asia.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, fosters sustainable economic growth in developing countries by financing private sector investment, mobilizing capital in the international financial markets, and providing advisory services to businesses and governments. IFC helps companies and financial institutions in emerging markets create jobs, generate tax revenues, improve corporate governance and environmental performance, and contribute to their local communities. The goal is to improve lives, especially for the people who most need the benefits of growth.
Fund will distribute up to $1.2 million in grant capital across eight winning proposals out of a pool of more than 180 total applications.
In emerging markets, the COVID-19 crisis presents an even greater economic challenge than in the United States. The American economy was the strongest in the world before the crisis. Even now, under widespread stay-at-home orders, US unemployment has risen to only 20%, whereas most emerging market countries started the year with formal unemployment rates well above 20%.
Almost overnight our external reality changed, and so did that of our entrepreneurs — and in a matter of weeks a lot of the impact we all have worked hard for the past many years vanished; revenues and profitability plummeted; people were furloughed, fired or salaries cut; investments ground to a halt.
The Aspen Network for Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE), a membership organization for small and mid-sized enterprises in emerging markets, is a member of the Alliance and the R3 network launched by the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN). When the pandemic hit, ANDE looked for ways to support its members — which naturally meant reaching out to other organizations. Randall Kempner, ANDE’s Executive Director, is cautiously optimistic that the networks will make a difference, even if just to share best practices.