As we’ve been digesting all the great findings of the recent ANDE State of the Small and Growing Business Sector report for 2019, we found ourselves reflecting on how some of the data points are linked to CEED’s work. CEED has membership with ANDE through our parent organization SEAF, so in relation to the report, the data on both the capacity development providers and the investment vehicles was noteworthy. For our team, three findings really stood out about the work capacity development providers are doing: first, the rise in delivering personalized and one-on-one services; second, that 61% of providers have an explicit gender focus in their approach; and third, how capacity development providers are themselves suffering because of the COVID-19 pandemic.


The rise of personalized services

The percent of ANDE capacity development providers running classroom and seminar trainings continued to rise from 40% in 2017 to 49% in 2018 and now to 74% in 2019. Additionally, the percent of providers offering mentoring services jumped from 48% in 2018 to 68% in 2019. 75% of all members surveyed are offering formal trainings in combination with personalized mentoring or consulting services. The increased focus on providing one-on-one mentoring and consulting services is important because studies show that having a successful entrepreneur from the local community act as a mentor, whether formally or informally, is rated as highly valuable by the mentee and can be linked to increases in short-term profits.[1]

With this in mind, the CEED centers have been reviewing and updating their own best practices for offering mentoring services and matching entrepreneurs with mentors. In partnership with Creative Metier, we are using this summer to share global best practices and run trainings across the different centers to ensure all our entrepreneurs receive highly personalized and effective services.


The growth of programming with an explicit gender focus

The second exciting data point is that 61% of capacity development providers have an explicit gender focus in their programming. This is something we at CEED and SEAF are actively working to improve upon. When entrepreneurs join a CEED center, we perform an intake process where we benchmark the revenues, employment, growth, and gender equity before they receive any services. We then conduct annual surveys and reviews in order to see how the enterprises and entrepreneurs are improving on these metrics. More and more we are working to integrate the SEAF Gender Equality Scorecard© into how we track a company’s performance. For any capacity development providers or investors looking to strengthen their gender impact measurement, we encourage them to review the newly released SEAF Gender Equality Scorecard© Manual.

The focus on measuring and promoting gender equality within SGBs is only getting more important as ANDE points out because the COVID-19 pandemic has unequally impacted women-led ventures, with recent survey data showing that 46% of women-led SGBs have had to temporarily suspend operations compared to only 39% of men-led enterprises.[2] Further, the report notes that women make up a majority of part-time employees in emerging markets and these are the first employees to be let go during an economic crisis. In planning programming to support entrepreneurs through and then out of the crisis, it is essential that capacity development providers tailor their services to and take an explicit focus on supporting women entrepreneurs.


Capacity development providers and the COVID-19 Crisis

The final pieces of data that stand out, but are also unfortunately unsurprising, relate to the negative effects of the pandemic on capacity development providers themselves. In a survey from March and April, 34% of the ANDE members reported having to down-size their operations as a result of COVID-19. Just when entrepreneurs need the services and support of these organizations most in order to survive the crisis, the capacity development providers themselves are suffering from strained finances and operations.

Yet, the report notes that 80% of the providers surveyed have adapted their services and delivery methods to match social distancing restrictions. In January 2020, 36% of providers reported offering services online and it is certain this number is significantly higher today. CEED is no exception, our team quickly mobilized to adapt our services to online platforms. From running peer meetings via Zoom, hosting virtual job fairs, and organizing the Global Leaders Talks, CEED, and our centers across the globe, have been finding new ways to provide meaningful support to entrepreneurs.

As the report points out, technical assistance is proven to be effective at guiding entrepreneurs and enterprises through a crisis, so CEED’s work, and that of all the other ANDE members, to support SGBs is only becoming more essential.[3] The continued growth, both in terms of median amount spent per SGB – $4,222 USD in 2018 vs $4,881 USD in 2019 – and the number of SGBs supported – over 190,000 in 2019 – is inspiring. While the challenges to providing the same levels of support have grown in 2020, so too has the need for services. So, CEED and all capacity development providers, investors, and donors must keep stepping up to ensure the future of SGBs and the economic development they drive in emerging economies.



[1]  (2019). “Networking Works: Peer-to-peer business networks help Small and Growing Businesses grow revenues and create jobs.” Argidius Foundation. AND Czibor, E. (2019). “Business mentoring – How strong is the evidence?” Nesta.

[2] (2020). “The Small and Growing Business Sector and the COVID-19 Crisis: Emerging Evidence on Key Risks and Needs.” ANDE and Dalberg.

[3] Bettosini, A., Thomas, J.C. (2020). “How to Support Entrepreneurs in the Time of Coronavirus.” TechnoServe.