The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs and the Argidius Foundation in Switzerland have announced a competition to catalyze support for small businesses in developing markets as a way to mitigate poverty.
The Argidius-ANDE Finance Challenge will award four to six grants of €200,000 to €300,000 ($250,000-$375,000) each for projects that provide innovative financial solutions to firms in need of start-up capital in Burkina Faso, Guatemala, Honduras, Mali, Moldova, or Nicaragua. Organizations may apply independently or jointly for projects that adapt a proven method or program or invent a new tool for meeting the financing needs of small and growing businesses.
With ongoing guidance from ANDE, grant recipients will conduct pilot programs of twelve to eighteen months, beginning in August. If impact targets are met, a prize of €1 million ($1.25 million) will be awarded in the spring of 2014 to the most successful project.
"We're looking for new solutions to mobilize finance for promising — but risky — small businesses," said Argidius Foundation executive director Leslie Johnston. "We hope this challenge encourages organizations to think creatively and collaboratively about what can be done, and we're convinced ANDE is the right partner to make this happen."