RENEW Strategies

Thoughts from the ANDE Meeting

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Joshua Weissburg
| October 13, 2009

This past Friday I attended a small portion of the 3 day extravaganza that is the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) annual meeting in Glen Cove, NY. ANDE is a membership organization that is bringing structure and something like a shared agenda to the new and uncertain field of SME (ANDE calls them “SGBs - small and growing businesses”) investment.

This is sorely needed. The ANDE meeting was perhaps the only gathering I’ve attended where I felt that everyone there understood exactly why SMEs/SGBs are important and shared a common goal: help them succeed. The field spends so much time explaining itself that it’s important that organizations that do already “get it” can sit down and talk about where they are stuck, where innovation needs to occur and figure out who might have some good ideas.

I also appreciated the fact that ANDE spans a range of nonprofit and for-profit approaches, and the stellar roster of participants mostly recognizes that this spectrum is necessary to move the SME field toward self-sufficiency. To me, some of the most exciting stuff to come out of this meeting has to do with how and where, exactly, nonprofit organizations can supply the sort of technical assistance that entrepreneurs need in order to prepare themselves to attract private capital. That is the sort of discussion that makes ANDE’s convening work exciting and of great value to the work that RENEW does.