ANDE Unites Forces to Bridge a Trillion-Dollar Gap in Small Business Funding Across the Global South

September 19, 2023


At its Annual Conference, Financial Institutions, Governments, ESG and entrepreneurship champions aim to clear a pathway to achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals

                Contact: Lizette Olmos Godfrey
Media Relations
The Aspen Institute

Accra, Ghana, September 18, 2023 – Hundreds of thought leaders from organizations around the world dedicated to advancing entrepreneurship convened in Accra, Ghana, for ANDE’s annual Global Conference, which took place from September 13 – September 15. This event took place in advance of the United Nations General Assembly meeting this week in New York. Convened by the President of the General Assembly, the UN Summit marks the halfway point for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Richenda Van Leeuwen, a Vice President at the Aspen Institute, and Executive Director of the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) said, “Small businesses make up the vast majority of the private sector in the Global South and across the world. They have a critical role to play in helping communities and countries deliver results to advance progress on the SDGs. Our conference’s theme, ‘Accelerating Action: Small Business Solutions and the SDGs,’ underscores the relevance of our mission and highlights the critical need for the financing and innovative support needed to enable effective entrepreneurship and strengthen small and growing business ecosystems effectively and sustainably.”

Although impact investments addressing the SDGs have been growing globally, they have dropped proportionally in developing economies where urgent change is needed to address global crises like youth unemployment, food insecurity and the effects of climate change. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has estimated that 65 million firms, or 40 percent of formal micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in developing countries, have an unmet financing need of $5.2 trillion annually. As of 2018, the IFC estimated that Africa alone faced a $331 billion financing gap for SMEs. Since 90% of businesses globally are small, the world needs to address their funding gap to meet global goals.

To close that gap is a lofty goal in itself. ANDE’s conference aimed to strengthen collaboration and coordination among regional, national, and international financial institutions and entrepreneurship ecosystem stakeholders, and provide a much-needed space for essential South-South engagement and sharing of approaches and challenges.

Michael Mensah-Baah, Ghana Development Bank deputy CEO said, “ANDE’s Conference is the only truly global event that can bring together intermediary institutions focused on developing entrepreneurial ecosystems, as we have seen in Accra during these three days. We have partnered to bring all development financial institution leaders under one roof, and we have gained invaluable insights from the networking experience alone.”

Charles Abani, UN Resident Coordinator, said, “At this critical juncture of the SDGs, with the midway point at hand, it is imperative that we rally and mobilize all available resources from all sectors – private and public. Each one of us possesses a unique role in the pursuit of the SDGs, and entrepreneurs, through their innovative ideas, have the potential to uncover novel approaches to bring this agenda to fruition. We know that achieving the SDGs could open up $12 trillion of market opportunities and create 380 million new jobs by 2030. We cannot wait any longer.”

Somachi Chris-Asoluka, CEO of The Tony Elumelu Foundation, and a conference keynote speaker announced its partnership with ANDE while releasing its impact report: “My job is to give young people economic hope. In all corners of our continent are ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Our economies in Africa are home to some of the most brilliant, resilient, and creative entrepreneurs in the world. We believe that the time for talk is over. It’s now time for real action on the ground. If we fail to act now, and we continue to postpone our action, then we will create an environment with dire consequences for all of us.” Ms. Chris-Asoluka leads an organization supporting young entrepreneurs across Africa, which has supported over 17,000 entrepreneurs and leveraged more than $100 million in grant funding to early-stage enterprises.

Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Prize Laureate, Chairman of the Yunus Centre, and founder of Grameen Bank, gave a surprise video appearance from Bangladesh. “To achieve the SDGs…. I propose a civilizational change, advocating for my Three Zeros framework as a model for businesses to have a real impact: Zero global warming, zero poverty, and zero unemployment. We need a new economic system that unleashes altruism as a creative force just as powerful as self-interest. We want to create a new world, a new civilization based on human values,” he said.

Enoch Nana Yaw Oduro- Agyei, known by his stage name Trigmatic, a leading Ghanaian musician, composer and songwriter from Accra, Ghana, appealed to delegates and the broader audience to invest in the creative industries, not as a favor but as a great business opportunity. “Sub-Saharan Africa’s recorded music revenue increased by 34.7% last year. There is strength in numbers and in diversity. Let’s work together to realize our collective potential and showcase the richness and diversity of African music to the world.”

Sessions focused on:

  1. Decent Job Creation: Discussing strategies to promote job opportunities and economic growth through entrepreneurship.
  2. Climate and Gender Equity Impact Measurement: Exploring ways to measure the impact of entrepreneurship on climate change and gender equity.
  3. SGB Finance/Impact Investment: Examining the role of finance and impact investment in supporting small and growing businesses (SGBs) or small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in developing economies.

If you are interested in interviewing ANDE Executive Director Richenda Van Leeuwen, please contact Lizette Olmos Godfrey at Stay updated on SGB progress and sustainable development efforts by following our work at


About ANDE

The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) is a global network of organizations that propel entrepreneurship in developing economies. ANDE members provide critical financial, educational, and business support services to small and growing businesses (SGBs) based on the conviction that SGBs create jobs, stimulate long-term economic growth, and produce environmental and social benefits.

As the leading global voice of the SGB sector, ANDE believes that SGBs are a powerful yet underleveraged tool in addressing social and environmental challenges. Since 2009, we have grown into a trusted network of nearly 300 collaborative members that operate in almost every developing economy. ANDE grows the body of knowledge, mobilizes resources, and connects the institutions that support the small business entrepreneurs who build inclusive prosperity in the developing world.

ANDE is part of the Aspen Institute, a global nonprofit organization whose purpose is to ignite human potential to build understanding and create new possibilities for a better world.

About The Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization whose purpose is to ignite human potential to build understanding and create new possibilities for a better world. Founded in 1949, the Institute drives change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve society’s greatest challenges. It is headquartered in Washington, DC and has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, as well as an international network of partners. For more information, visit

View Comments