Developing the Capacity of Entrepreneurs

Through a seven-year program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, TechnoServe has developed entrepreneurs by focusing on three objectives: support and strengthen today’s entrepreneurs and SMEs, plant the seeds for the entrepreneurs of tomorrow and build local sustainable capacity of financial institutions to support those entrepreneurs and SMEs. Through industrywide initiatives and direct client support in horticulture, cotton, handicrafts, tourism, agro processing, honey, field crops and livestock, TechnoServe has grown local businesses and developed sustainable value chains. TechnoServe has helped aspiring young entrepreneurs turn their business ideas into reality through the implementation of six national business plan competitions. With a proven combination of training, mentoring and networking activities (as well as seed capital vouchers and follow-up “aftercare” support) participants received assistance in creating thriving small- and medium-sized companies that generate employment and income opportunities across a wide range of sectors. By initiating the school aged youth entrepreneurship (SAYE) “after school” program to inspire young people and teach them about the world of business, TechnoServe helped foster a new culture of entrepreneurship. Junior Achievement Swaziland was born out of these initiatives and today runs the “JA Company Program,” the “Economics for Success Program,” and a highly successful job shadow program enabling thousands of youth to explore the possibilities of creating businesses and fostering economic growth. Access to finance is a considerable constraint to the development of SMEs in Swaziland. To help private lenders expand their services to these riskier borrowers, TechnoServe launched a $25-million Development Credit Authority (DCA) loan guarantee scheme (backed by the U.S Agency for International Development) for viable Swazi SMEs. To this end, the commercial banks have also since expanded their loan portfolio and are implementing the Entrepreneurial Finance Lab Psychometric Testing platform to assess loan candidates for micro-, small- and medium-sized loans.