Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs

Argidius-ANDE Finance Challenge

Argidius ANDE Finance Challenge“We’re looking for new solutions to mobilize finance for promising—but risky—small businesses. We hope this challenge encourages organizations to think creatively and collaboratively about what can be done, and we’re convinced ANDE is the right partner to make this happen.” -Argidius Foundation


The Argidius Foundation and the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs Announce Prize of One Million Euros to Finance Challenge Winner

Competition aimed to stimulate small businesses in emerging markets recognizes African impact investment group


The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) and the Argidius Foundation—a charitable foundation promoting businesses as a way to mitigate poverty—have announced an award of one million euros ($1.27 million) to Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P), an impact investment group dedicated to African small and growing businesses. The award was part of the first Argidius-ANDE Finance Challenge (AAFC). 

Sponsored by the Argidius Foundation and launched in spring 2012, the AAFC called for innovative solutions to help fill the financing gap for emerging market start-ups. I&P was selected from among five pilot projects. Each project, focusing on at least one of the following target countries—Burkina Faso, Guatemala, Honduras, Mali, Moldova or Nicaragua—was awarded a grant of 200,000 euros to conduct an extensive pilot program, during which ANDE provided ongoing guidance. 

A grand prize of one million euros is now being awarded to I&P for demonstrating the potential to achieve the greatest impact through both replication and scale.

I&P has created a local equity investment vehicle and supporting infrastructure designed for small and growing businesses (SGBs) in Burkina Faso and modeled after a proven example in Niger. During the AAFC pilot phase, I&P built a strong management team, offering coaching and technical assistance support to entrepreneurs. I&P also raised 1.34 million euros from 12 investors, 77 percent of which is African private capital. I&P aims to build on this experience and structure an equity investment industry dedicated to SGBs in Africa through a network of 10 vehicles in 10 countries, thus replicating the fund across the region. I&P will continue to offer critical technical assistance to its investee businesses as well as capital, in addition to building a network, enabling those businesses to learn from one another.

An expert committee of SGB sector finance professionals selected the winner based on the clarity, feasibility, capacity, expected impact and replicability of the proposed solution. 

“All five pilot programs offered promising solutions to help unlock capital for the missing middle,” said Nicholas Colloff, executive director of Argidius Foundation. “What the selection committee found most impressive about I&P was its vision and ability to implement a proven investment model in very difficult business environments,” added Randall Kempner, executive director of ANDE. For more details on all of the pilot programs please click here.