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Blog Posts: SMEs

  • Accelerators: A Critical Component in Scaling Up Environmental Entrepreneurship

    This post was co-written with Saurabh Lall, Research Director of Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE). ANDE is a global network of over 170 member organizations that focus on the potential of small and growing businesses (SGBs) around the world to create economic, social and environmental impact.

    Over the past few years, we have seen tremendous growth in impact investing, investments made to generate both a financial and a social/environmental return. The sector now manages about US$40 billion.

    While this growth on the supply side of mission-driven capital has been tremendous, we must now focus on the demand side—in other words, the entrepreneurs themselves. It’s essential to ensure that there are enough entrepreneurs and small and growing businesses (SGBs) out there to address today’s complex, global challenges. These businesses must also have the capacity to take on the type of capital that impact investors have to offer. Accelerators and incubators are and will be increasingly critical to achieving these goals.

    Accelerators are groups that provide business development support to enterprises with existing customers and revenue, while incubators typically serve earlier stage enterprises (pre-customers and pre-revenue). These types of groups can help grow environmental entrepreneurship by ensuring that demand meets supply; in other words, a strong pipeline of deals is ready to meet the growing supply of capital.

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  • Q & A with Tao Zhang: Scaling Up Impact Investing in China

    Opportunities in China for impact investing are growing, where investors look to create positive social and environmental benefits alongside returns. Impact investors actively choose to put their money into companies that address social and environmental issues through their business models. Tao Zhang, the Chief Operating Officer of New Ventures, WRI’s center for environmental entrepreneurship with local operations in China and five other high growth markets, answers questions on the country’s current investment climate for environmentally-focused small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

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  • New Ventures Forum Addresses Challenges to Scaling Up Clean Energy Access in India

    New Ventures India, part of WRI’s center for environmental entrepreneurship, and CDF-IFMR convened a workshop in Mumbai earlier this summer to address the barriers to the clean energy industry serving India’s rural poor. Representatives from every major clean energy company in India joined senior executives from corporations with rural marketing and distribution expertise, representatives from Indian regulatory bodies, and end-user consumer financing experts at the event.

    Clean energy products, such as solar cookers, and services, such as renewable energy, have the potential to provide power to India’s rural poor without the negative environmental effects of traditional fuel sources. Tapping into India’s Base of the Pyramid (BoP) market can also create profits for companies providing these clean energy products and services. So why hasn’t this market taken off yet in India?

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  • Global Investor Forum Showcases Rising Sustainable Businesses

    Ready to scale up, six environmental entrepreneurs from around the world make their case to investors in New York City.

    The inaugural New Ventures Global Investor Forum, held last week in New York City, showed how environmental entrepreneurship can provide clean economic growth and investment opportunities in emerging markets. Six environmentally-focused entrepreneurs presented their business models to an audience of over 160 leading investors and businesspeople. The forum, themed “Green Opportunities in Tomorrow’s Markets,” showcased a wide range of companies, from Ouro Verde, a sustainable Brazil nut harvester working with Amazonian communities, to Sinen En-Tech, a Chinese industrial steam recycling company helping its industrial customers reduce energy and water use.

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