Invest in the enterprising people we serve.
There are more than 300 million small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries, which contribute up to 40% of national GDP. They are operated and often founded by women and men aiming to provide greater life opportunities for themselves, their families, and their communities. These businesses promote inclusive development, serving as the main providers of jobs for many low-income individuals; the main suppliers of basic goods and services in poor or isolated communities; and very often the best market alternative for farmers. Entrepreneurship also provides critical opportunities for women and youth to earn their own incomes.
Despite its great importance, 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 growing, from achieving optimal productivity, and from contributing strongly to their local and national economies.
Our Work in Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurs and their enterprises come in different shapes and sizes. TechnoServe has partnered with large corporations, multilateral institutions, and governments to provide life-changing support in a variety of settings. For instance, we help young entrepreneurs in rural Africa to start new businesses; we support established enterprises to accelerate their growth and impact in Latin America; we work with food processors in Africa to expand their business, sourcing more products from small-scale farmers; and we help small shop owners to improve their businesses and profits.
Our successful entrepreneurship portfolio is based on four key pillars:
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.
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.
Featured Entrepreneurship Projects
Making Markets Work for Women Entrepreneurs
Examples of intervention areas include: Access to Equipment: Women entrepreneurs need access to reliable equipment to be productive. WIN is helping companies that have equipment – from cold storage containers to sewing machines – to develop more inclusive models that reach lower-income women. Financial services: Financial services are necessary for…
Crece tu Empresa
Context Crece tu Empresa (CRECE) is an ongoing program since 2015 in Central America with the support of the Citi Foundation. The objective of the program is to support young entrepreneurs to promote the sustainable growth of their businesses, by helping them develop their skills and business competencies. Opportunity…
Impulsa tu Empresa 2.0
ITE 2.0 will assist 825 businesses in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The three year program is expected to increase sales by more than 30%, equivalent to $41 million, and create more than 800 new jobs in different economic sectors.
Strengthening group organizations for a better future in Brumadinho
TechnoServe and the Vale Foundation launched the AGIR (Apoio e Geração e Incremento de Renda) program in September 2018 to support communities in broadening their local economies by targeting key sectors and providing entrepreneurship training and support.
BeniBiz: Boosting Youth Agribusinesses for a More Food Secure Benin
BeniBiz is a business accelerator that aims to provide food and agribusiness entrepreneurs the skills they need to build prosperous businesses and economies, and food-secure communities.
Pan-African Youth Entrepreneur Development (PAYED)
The Pan-African Youth Entrepreneur Development (PAYED) program will provide training and tailored advisory support 600 young entrepreneurs in Kenya, Nigeria, and Côte d’Ivoire to develop opportunities in the micro-retail sector.
Training entrepreneurs in business skills and connecting them to better financing and markets helps them earn reliable incomes for the long term. Last year alone, TechnoServe helped improve the incomes of more than 45,000 businesses around the world, nearly 60% of which were run by women.
Small businesses provide important goods and services to underserved populations in the developing world. Small shops, for instance, supply the vast majority of consumer goods in many countries; and many enterprises meet critical needs like health care in remote areas. When small businesses run better and are more responsive to consumer needs, the whole community benefits.
SMEs account for about 70% of all jobs in developing countries. TechnoServe works to boost this engine of employment, helping businesses to improve their operations and profits and to create new jobs. In particular, these businesses can offer important employment opportunities for women and youth.
Women and youth
Entrepreneurship provides women and young people in particular with opportunities to earn their own incomes. This helps women achieve greater financial independence, often improving their decision-making power within families and increasing household spending on needs like education and health. For the millions of youth in developing countries who may struggle to find formal jobs, obtaining the skills to start and expand their own business is not just critical to their own well-being but to their countries’ economic and political security.
Featured Entrepreneurship Blog Posts
Navigating the Informal Economy is Vital for Africa’s Rural Youth
Mozambican Youth Create Visions for Successful Careers and Lives
Transforming Businesses and Lives in Kenya’s Micro-Retail Sector
A Day in the Life: How We Apply Business Solutions to Nutrition Challenges
“Never Say I Can’t”
Chilies, Mangoes, and Spreadsheets: Supporting Food Processors in Malawi
Dreams Come True: Entrepreneurs Reach Their Potential in Chile
Entrepreneurs in Chile are building the skills and confidence to grow their businesses.