Growing Businesses

Entrepreneurship is a great catalyst to promote inclusive growth in developing countries.

There are more than 300 million small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the developing world, which provide opportunities for inclusive development to their communities in many ways. They are the main providers of jobs, particularly for less advantaged people; usually the suppliers of basic goods and services in low income or isolated communities; and very often the best market alternative for farmers. Small business owners also set an example for youth in their communities. 

Despite its large economic relevance, the SME sector in the developing world faces enormous challenges to unleashing its full potential. Lack of adequate access to talent, markets and financial services, as well as challenging operating environments have prevented these businesses from becoming small and growing businesses (SGBs), from optimal productivity, and from contributing strongly to their local and national economies.

Our Expertise

For more information,
please contact

Juan Carlos Thomas

Global Entrepreneurship Director

Entrepreneurs and their enterprises come in different shapes and sizes. TechnoServe has partnered with large corporations, multilaterals and governments to provide life changing support in a variety of settings. For instance, we help young entrepreneurs in rural Africa to start a new business; we support established SGBs to accelerate their growth and impact in mining communities in Latin America; and we work with food processors in Africa to expand their business, sourcing more products from smallholder farmers and increasing supply of nutritional food in their communities.

Our successful entrepreneurship portfolio is based on four key pillars:

Careful adaptation: We recognize that entrepreneurs face different opportunities and challenges depending on a variety of dimensions including their particular context, gender, age, stage in their growth cycle and personal appetite for growth, so we carefully adapt our methodology to better serve each particular community of entrepreneurs. 

Market driven approach: We support entrepreneurs to find markets with untapped demand opportunities to build their growth strategies and encourage them to test and capture these opportunities as quickly and affordably as possible.

Effective capacity development: Recognizing that the entrepreneurs we support are busy, hardworking individuals, we aim to efficiently provide the most relevant and effective trainings, in order for them to navigate organizational challenges by themselves in the future.

Rigorous measurement and continuous learning: We currently implement nearly 30 enterprise development programs in more than 20 countries, which provide an excellent base of data and learning. Through adhering to rigorous measurement, we strive to collectively learn and improve each program to be more effective and efficient.


In 2015 alone, our work benefited more than 4,000 businesses (62 percent women-led) in the developing world, generating $33.8 million of incremental revenue attributable to our intervention.

Help entrepreneurs grow their business and create jobs in their community with a sustainable donation.

On The Ground



Impulsa tu Empresa 2.0

Impulsa tu Empresa 2.0 will support 825 businesses in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Within three years, the program is expected to generate a sales increase of more than 30 percent – equivalent to $41 million – for participating businesses and to create more than 800 new jobs in different economic sectors.
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Solutions for African Food Enterprises

Solutions for African Food Enterprises (SAFE) was a public-private partnership between TechnoServe, Partners in Food Solutions, and USAID that aimed to increase the competitiveness of the African food processing sector to expand availability of affordable and nutritious foods to local populations. The program benefited more than 1,000 food processors who source from more than 800,000 smallholder farmers in five countries.
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Impulsa tu Empresa

Impulsa Tu Empresa aims to help small and growing businesses boost their growth through mentoring and training. Since its launch in 2012, the program business has increased the sales of over 1,400 businesses by $48 million and generated 1,600 new jobs in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Burkina Faso.
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Strengthening Rural Youth Development through Enterprise

TechnoServe is partnering with The MasterCard Foundation to help rural young people ages 18 to 30 in East Africa transition to economic independence.
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Beyond Extraction

TechnoServe, Anglo American, and the Inter-American Development Bank are collaborating in a regional public-private partnership to catalyze locally adapted economic development for communities surrounding Anglo American’s mining operations in Brazil, Chile, and Peru.


Anglo American
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Making Markets Work for Women Entrepreneurs

Women IN Business: The Women IN Business (WIN) program helps women-led businesses to grow their incomes through better access to products, inputs, and services, while addressing gender inequality in commercial business. Through this market systems approach, WIN works in partnership with permanent market players - such as private sector companies, associations, service providers and regulators. Partners are carefully selected and new ways of working are tested before inviting other market players to replicate their success. This approach allows WIN to find sustainable, lasting, market-based solutions for women.
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Increasing Sales for Micro-Enterprises in Zacatecas

In August 2016, Goldcorp and TechnoServe Mexico partnered to launch the Entrepreneurship and Business Development program, which aims to create inclusive economic growth in the communities surrounding the Goldcorp Minera Peñasquito (MP) mining operation in Zacatecas, Mexico. The program provides business support tailored to the specific needs of local entrepreneurs, providing the skills, knowledge and tools they need to build successful businesses, develop strong markets, and create income and jobs throughout these communities. The program's methodology is based around the implementation of best practices in business development. These skills are taught in customized workshops that cover general themes around entrepreneurship, business planning, finance, marketing, accounting and production, among others key skills. Along with these workshops, each beneficiary works with a business advisor (BA), who provides tailored consultancy services and customized mentoring. This BA works closely with the entrepreneurs, fostering their development and guiding the entire business development process throughout the duration of the program. The program's first generation includes 60 projects and 143 entrepreneurs. A second generation will begin in August 2017.

Empowering Women Entrepreneurs in Bangalore

TechnoServe is working on a business accelerator program for women entrepreneurs in Bangalore in partnership with Intuit, a global business and financial management software company. Intuit’s flagship product QuickBooks is the world’s number one accounting software for entrepreneurs and small businesses. The accelerator program, initially planned for twelve months, is aimed at 20 growth-constrained, women-led, revenue earning small businesses. These 20 women entrepreneurs will be pre-screened prior to selection. The program aims to help scale up the businesses of these participating women entrepreneurs, who will undergo business and financial management training and will also receive access to a business advisory council and mentors.



Empowering Youth Entrepreneurs in Latin America

In Latin America, youth face unique challenges in obtaining formal employment or becoming successful entrepreneurs, and the youth unemployment rate is nearly 30 percent. In partnership with the Citi Foundation, TechnoServe is working to address the challenges of youth unemployment in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Panama.


Citi Foundation
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Increasing Women’s Access to Savings and Banking Services

Business Women Connect: Business Women Connect works to economically empower businesswomen in Mozambique by giving them the business skills they need to succeed. At the same time, it also aims to increase the supply of micro-savings products through empowering these successful businesswomen to become financial service agents for micro-savings products. Business Women Connect trains these businesswomen on how to promote the effective use of formal savings products through training on savings and financial literacy.
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Tokafala: Building Strong Businesses in Botswana

As diamond reserves in Botswana dwindle, the country's entrepreneurs are playing an increasingly leading role in creating new jobs and diversifying the economy. In partnership with Anglo American, TechnoServe is implementing an enterprise development program called Tokafala, which focuses on fostering the growth of small and growing businesses in Botswana by helping them to overcome the challenges that many entrepreneurs face in the country. The four-year program has supported over 230 micro, small and medium enterprises (SMMEs), impacting over 2,000 jobs. From 2014 to 2016, Tokafala provided advisory services and mentorship to more than 215 SMMEs, helping entrepreneurs develop the business, financial management and marketing skills they need to build successful and sustainable businesses. The project has successfully established a business hub and developed strong partnerships with leading organizations that could provide advisory services to local SMMEs, such as the Chamber of Mines’ Business Development Forum, as well as Debswana’s supply chain and a number of commercial banks. The program generated almost $2.5 million in financial benefits for local businesspeople, and helped to mobilize an additional $2.4 in formal financing.

Empowering Women Entrepreneurs in Mumbai

This program targets growth-constrained, women-led small and microenterprises, operating in the unorganized or informal sector in the Mumbai urban area. Potential enterprises would have an annual turnover exceeding $10,000, with a significant number expected to be operating in the social and services sectors. The program includes training of women entrepreneurs selected through a screening process, and a business advisory program including mentoring support for identified women most positioned to scale up their businesses.

Accelerating Women and Youth Led Businesses

The Accelerating Women Entrepreneurs in South African Metros (AWESAM) program aims to increase the economic participation of urban women and youth in the South African economy by converting subsistence-based businesses into high-growth and competitive ventures. AWESAM, which began in 2013, aimed to support 30 entrepreneurs through mentorship, business development services and access to finance to improve their small businesses. In late 2014 through late 2015, Citi Foundation supported TechnoServe in implementing a second phase of the program, AWESAM II. The project supported 83 business through business plan validation, individualized business advisory services and access to finance. Graduating businesses reported an increased financial benefit of over $125,000.


Citi Foundation

Increasing Sales for Small and Growing Businesses

In 2011, TechnoServe began a partnership with Anglo American’s EMERGE program, which was launched in 2006 to accelerate of micro and small businesses in the communities surrounding Anglo American mining operations in Chile. The program helps local entrepreneurs to launch and grow profitable businesses by providing them with tailored business mentoring, one-on-one advisory support, online training, and access to finance. In 2016, the program began offering the opportunity for participating businesses to enter the supply chains of various large companies throughout the country, connecting them with a sustainable market for their goods and services. By providing these emerging business leaders with the financing, and managerial and business skills they need to succeed, the program has helped more than 1,300 businesses to increase their sales by a range of 30 percent to more than 100 percent to date.


Anglo American

Blog Posts

July 29, 2019

“Never Say I Can’t”

After a devastating flood forced Daria Arabulo to start a new life in a different country, she launched her own business as a way to provide for her family. After participating in TechnoServe’s Impulsa Tu Empresa program, her business has continued to grow.

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July 10, 2019

She is Capable: Boosting Business and Savings in Mozambique

TechnoServe’s Business Women Connect program has helped Mozambican women improve their businesses and increase access to savings. This impact can be seen in a new short film titled “She is Capable”.

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July 3, 2019

Growing Prosperity in a Greenhouse

As more young people in rural East Africa turn to agriculture, visionaries like Samson Mwaikenda are modernizing their farming operations for a more prosperous future.

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Thought Leadership

In the News

Getting Past Doubt: Finding Better Ways for Multinationals and SMEs to Intersect | NextBillion

Juan Carlos Thomas and Annie Shoemaker describe TechnoServe's experience working with the private sector to support small businesses.

Entrepreneurship and the Agri-Food Opportunity | Forbes

In this interview, TechnoServe CEO William Warshauer explains why he's optimistic about the potenital of entrepreneurship and technology to create opportunities in agricultural value chains.

Helping the Digital Revolution Reach the Corner Store | Next Billion

In this article, Alice Waweru explains how TechnoServe's Smart Duka program piloted digital innovations for micro-retailers in Kenya.

Small Business is Everyone’s Business | Fortune Favors the Bold

This podcast episode about the impact of small businesses features interviews with TechnoServe CEO William Warshauer and program participant Gloriose Uwayezu.

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Event Appearances

August 21-22, 2019

Incubadoras LAT

Antigua, Guatemala

Central America Entrepreneurship Director Oscar Artiga shares lessons about identifying promising entrepreneurs.

July 23-24, 2019

ANDE West Africa Regional Conference

Lagos, Nigeria

TechnoServe's Chinwe Owhorji speaks about youth entrepreneurship programs and impact reporting.

April 10-11, 2019

Ending Global Hunger Symposium

West Lafayette, IN

TechnoServe's Macani Toungara speaks about the role of micro-entrepreneurship and off-farm labor in improving food security.

February 18, 2019

ANDE Metrics from the Ground Up Conference

Mérida, Mexico

James Tinker shares insights about measuring the impact of TechnoServe's programs on female entrepreneurs.

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