RENEW Strategies

A Look into The Exec’s Program

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Erin O'Connor
| September 30, 2019

In May 2017, RENEW launched The Exec’s Program, an intensive training program designed to provide CEOs with the systems and tools needed to build disciplined management teams.

The reason RENEW started the program is simple: our investment thesis is that with a little planning and disciplined execution, companies in Ethiopia can have a huge competitive advantage over others in the market. Our experience is that poor execution is why most companies fail. Starting at the top, most CEOs, often founders, don’t know or apply some of the most basic fundamental disciplines that have been proven to work around the world. For example, writing down a clear plan for the year; tracking a few key metrics; closing the company’s books each month and analyzing the three financial statements; running effective weekly management meetings; using a sales pipeline; asking for feedback from customers, etc. You’d be shocked at how few companies do the basics.

We started The Exec’s Program to be different from the flood of donor and consultant offered accelerator programs and boot camps out there. We wanted to have a program focused on tools that could be immediately applied by a CEO to their organization that would move the needle on their performance. The program requires a commitment of time, and like any skill, what is taught must be practiced over and over again until it becomes a habit. The habits that disciplined executives form are those that other top-performing executives attribute to their success.

The program is for executives in RENEW’s portfolio and a select few additional executives we believe have the potential to become market leaders. The program focuses on planning, governance, execution, finance, marketing and sales, and corporate stewardship, with a strong focus on teamwork and group implementation.

Now for the numbers. Since 2017, we have had three cohorts with a total of 46** executives. Of these 46 executives who were enrolled in the program, 19 have been women. The following table provides a deeper look into the three cohorts:

In the latest annual survey conducted from February to March 2019, RENEW collected data from the companies that attended The Exec's Program, a total of 26 companies. Here are some quick findings based off these surveys:

  • As of December 2018, the total number of employees of all The Exec's Program Alumni was 1,943, which translates into a 16% increase from 2017. Of these 1,943 jobs, 871 were held by women.
  • In terms of the number of jobs created over the course of the training program, The Exec’s Program Alumni have added 264 new jobs to the local economy, of which 132 jobs were jobs for women (50%). On average this represents 10 new jobs created per company, five of which were for women.
  • From the 26 companies in the Alumni group, 18 companies raised capital in 2018, 69% of the total.
  • From the 18 companies that raised capital, five companies raised equity, 10 companies raised debt and three companies raised grants.
  • To compare the performance of 2017 and 2018 cohorts, we have included some additional survey results in the table below:

    With the survey results, we’ve also compared The Exec’s Program to data from GALI (Global Accelerator Learning Initiative) which gathered information from 175 acceleration programs representing 13,000 entrepreneurs from all around the world and used it as our benchmark.

    • On average, accelerated ventures display greater one-year growth in revenues, employment, and investment;
    • USAID’s PACE Program (Partnering to Accelerate Entrepreneurship) report finds that Small and Growing Businesses (SGBs) that receive shorter, less individualized technical assistance, such as cohort-based, time-bound incubators and accelerators, demonstrate an average revenue growth over two times and job growth over one-and-a-half times that of other SGBs.

    Some comparisons between GALI and The Exec’s Program:

    Based on these survey results and through facilitating these sessions, we believe that The Exec’s Program is providing valuable skills and opportunities to the participants. We are constantly aiming to graduate top-performing executives with disciplined management teams that become legends of Ethiopia’s economic growth.

    For more information on the ABG project, read the blog we published in November of 2016 shortly after the project launch.

    The Executives’ Program, a part of RENEW’s Accelerating Business Growth (ABG) project, is undertaken with financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada. Please see the following press release on the ABG project for more details. To find out more about RENEW or the Impact Angel Network, contact us at, follow us on Twitter @RENEWLLC or find us on Instagram @impactangelnetwork.

    To find out more about RENEW or the IAN, contact us at, follow us on Twitter @RENEWLLC or find us on Instagram @impactangelnetwork. Be sure to check out our upcoming events, including our upcoming Econ-Tourism Trip.

    **46 includes our Spring 2019 class who have not yet received their certificates, but who have completed all required coursework and assignments.