Examples of Programs Run by Nonprofits and other Community-based Organizations

The Adventure Project

Adventure Project (USA)

The Adventure Project works in developing countries seeking out partnerships with organizations creating jobs for their communities. Some organizations include KickStart, LifeLine, Living Goods, Water for People, and WaterAid. The organization chooses partners based on their measurable social impact, a proven track record of success, and readiness to scale. Since its inception, the Adventure Project has empowered 798 people to find a job. This has led to thriving local economies, improved environmental conditions and even reduced mortality rates. In Kenya, cooking over an open fire posed a huge health risk to both people and the environment. Now, stoves are made and sold locally. Masons create stoves and vendors earn commissions for their sales. And because they’re using 50 percent less charcoal, families are saving 20 percent of daily expenses. In other countries, villagers have been trained as health care agents, selling more than 60 products at affordable prices. These health care agents also care for more than 800 people in their communities.

African Diaspora Marketplace (ADM)

USAID and Western Union Foundation

The African diaspora is a deeply committed, yet largely untapped, source of innovative, entrepreneurial solutions to poverty and economic development in Africa. Through the African Diaspora Marketplace (ADM), USAID, Western Union and the Western Union Foundation seek to support the entrepreneurial activities of the African diaspora community in 19 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP)

U.S. Department of State

The African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP), launched by the U.S. Department of State in July 2010, assists women entrepreneurs across sub-Saharan Africa. These small and medium business owners are transforming their societies through economic development and social advocacy in their communities. AWEP alumni have created more than 17,000 jobs and established 22 women's business associations across Sub-Saharan Africa that are transforming societies and spurring economic growth.

An AIDS-Free Future

PEPFAR: DREAMS Partnership

DREAMS (Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, and Safe) provides a comprehensive, multi-sectoral package of core interventions to address key factors that make girls and young women particularly vulnerable to HIV. These include structural factors, such as gender-based violence, exclusion from economic opportunities, and a lack of access to secondary school. DREAMS layers multiple interventions at once so that adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) are surrounded with critical support to keep them safe from HIV and other risks. DREAMS is a flagship partnership between PEPFAR and private sector partners: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Girl Effect, Gilead Sciences, Johnson & Johnson, and ViiV Healthcare. DREAMS is implemented across 15 countries and conducted in close collaboration with its partners, experts, advocates, and adolescent girls and young women (AGYW). To date, PEPFAR has invested nearly one billion dollars through DREAMS, reaching millions of girls and lifting up their families and communities. DREAMS drives a greater global focus on the unique risks and opportunities experienced by AGYW, and drives partner governments to renew their commitments on gender equality and its impact on adolescent health and development. Additionally, DREAMS enables multilateral organizations and non-governmental organizations to advocate more successfully for greater attention on and investment in AGYW. Critically, AGYW are meaningfully engaged at every step of DREAMS for their unique insights and leadership.

Be the Change: Careers & Degrees to Fight Poverty

Student Training and Education in Public Service (STEPS) (USA)

STEPS runs an initiative called "Be the Change", a series of activism guidebooks on their website that shows everyday citizens how they can help solve some of the world's biggest issues. This includes a guide focusing on ending poverty. The goal of the guide is to educate people about the poverty cycle that so many Americans are trapped in and show ways they can get involved to help break it. Readers can learn about volunteer, donation and advocacy opportunities, along with degree and career paths where they can have an even bigger impact.  The link can be found at https://www.publicservicedegrees.org/be-the-change/fighting-poverty/

The Business Place Network

Business Place, South Africa

The Business Place is a network of small business support centers. TBPN offers entrepreneurs the convenience of one-stop shop walk-in centers strategically located across the country. Upon entering one of the centers, entrepreneurs are immediately directed to reception where an experienced member of staff ascertains their needs. They are then referred to an appropriate co-location partner at that specific network where they receive targeted assistance. Core services offered to entrepreneurs include: coordinated business support, incubation; mentorship, market linkages; and financing interventions. TBPN also assists entrepreneurs with tender application processes, assisting them to unlock opportunities in the public and private sector.

Business Solutions to Poverty

TechnoServe, USA

TechnoServe is a catalyst and partner for transformative, on-the-ground, market-based solutions to poverty. They are a leader in harnessing the power of the private sector to help people lift themselves out of poverty. A nonprofit organization operating in 29 countries, they work with hard working men and women in the developing world to build competitive farms, businesses, and industries. By linking people to information, capital, and markets, we have helped millions to create lasting prosperity for their families and communities. Their successful entrepreneurship portfolio is based on four key pillars: Careful adaptation; Market-driven approach; Effective capacity development; Rigorous measurement and continuous learning. 

Dignity Unbound: A Whole New Approach to Solving Poverty

Atlas Network (USA)

Atlas Network increases global prosperity by strengthening a network of independent partner organizations that promote individual freedom and are committed to identifying and removing barriers to human flourishing (https://www.atlasnetwork.org/). Their vision is of a free, prosperous, and peaceful world where the principles of individual liberty, property rights, limited government, and free markets are secured by the rule of law. Atlas Network cultivates a network of partners that share this vision. To accelerate the pace of achievement by their partners in local communities, Atlas Network’s unique "Coach, Compete, Celebrate!" strategic model inspires the partners to improve performance and achieve extraordinary outcomes. They provide world-class seminars, workshops, mentoring, and other learning opportunities that inspire professionalism and build community among independent partners. Atlas Network also offers grant and prize competitions that fuel their partners' efforts to develop, innovate, and succeed. They foster camaraderie and stokes ambitions among the partners by celebrating their greatest accomplishments through events and media outreach.

Empowering African Entrepreneurs

Elumelu Foundation, Nigeria

The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) is an African private-sector-led philanthropy focused on empowering African entrepreneurs. The Foundation was founded in 2010 by Tony O. Elumelu, CON, an entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist who is passionate about Africa’s economic development. Their long-term investment in empowering African entrepreneurs is emblematic of Tony Elumelu’s philosophy of Africapitalism, which positions Africa’s private sector, and most importantly entrepreneurs, as the catalyst for the social and economic development of the continent. The Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program is the $100million commitment by the Elumelu family to empower 10,000 African entrepreneurs over a 10-year period. The goal is to create at least 1million jobs and contribute over $10billion in revenue to the African economy. Through its flagship Entrepreneurship Program, the Foundation empowers African entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurship ecosystem across 54 African countries.  The Foundation has empowered 9,631 entrepreneurs thus far. The Program is built on a 7-pillar model, a unique holistic system of effective and intensive support to the African entrepreneurs, consisting of startup enterprise toolkit, online mentoring, online resource library, meet-ups, TEF Entrepreneurship Forum, seed capital and alumni network. In 2018, the Foundation launched TEFConnect, Africa’s digital entrepreneurship hub last year to connect the entrepreneurship ecosystem and facilitate businesses beyond physical borders. The platform currently hosts 800,000 users.

Empowering Communities with Lending Circles

Mission Asset Fund (MAF), San Francisco, USA 

MAF seeks to create a fair financial marketplace for hardworking people. They work to make Lending Circles and other loan products available nationwide. They provide a novel type of social loan program that helps people open bank accounts, avoid predatory lenders, and quickly build credit. The lending circle approach enables them to offer no interest social loans to start or build a business.

The Endeavor Entrepreneur Experience

Endeavor, USA

Endeavor is leading the high-impact entrepreneurship movement around the world. They employ a unique model to select, support and multiply the impact of our entrepreneurs. Endeavor's entrepreneurs continue to transform their communities, create quality jobs and inspire future generations of founders.

Entrepreneurship and Displaced Women in Cameroon

Reach Out

Centered in Buea in the southwest region of Cameroon, the Reach Out project enables conflict-affected and internally displaced young women to become economically independent. These women are supported through education and finances to create micro, small and cooperative businesses.

Equipping Talented but Under-Resourced Individuals

Rising Tide Capital (USA)

Rising Tide Capital is a non-profit organization whose mission is to transform lives and communities through entrepreneurship. It provides business development services designed to transform lives by helping individuals start and grow successful businesses; build communities through collaborations with other non-profits, higher education institutions, corporations, and public agencies; and create a scalable program model with measurable impact which can be replicated in communities of need across the U.S.  Key programs include the Community Business Academy, Business Acceleration Services and Credit to Capital.


Kauffman Foundation, USA

Fast Trac has three versions. One version is designed for entrepreneurs who are launching new technology or science-based ventures. Another is for those who are starting nearly anything else and from low income background. A third version is geared toward business owners who are looking to grow their companies. The New Venture program for startups is usually seven full days over four weeks. A group of peers, session leaders and visiting experts help delegates to vet their idea, show them how to do business research and help them to ask and answer the important financial questions they need to write a business plan. The experts also give food for thought on the best way to fund an idea. 

Financial Services for Low-to-Moderate Income Individuals

Economic and Community Development Institute (USA)

The Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI), a nonprofit organization in Cleveland Ohio, offers numerous financial services targeted at low- to moderate-income individuals. Services include financial literacy classes, Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), microenterprise training, consulting services, and microloans. Participants are referred to ECDI by One-Stop Centers, local community- and faith-based organizations, and through word of mouth. Before receiving any of ECDI’s services, all participants must complete economic literacy training. This four-session class teaches individuals the importance of saving and budgeting their money. Participants then choose which asset goal they want to concentrate on (microenterprise, homeownership, or secondary education) and begin saving money toward their goal in a matched savings account, or IDA. Match rates range from 2:1 to 4:1, depending on the program. The majority of ECDI participants enroll in the microenterprise program. These individuals undergo a 10-session training workshop where they learn the skills necessary to start their own business. Upon completion, all participants have developed a business plan, which ECDI staff help them to implement. At this point, many participants receive an ECDI microloan for business start-up or expansion. ECDI staff continue to work with business owners, providing technical assistance and conducting on-site visits.

Fostering an Entrepreneurial Mindset in Haiti

CEDEL Haiti, Port Au Prince, Haiti

Launched in May 2012, CEDEL Haiti is a social enterprise that promotes the development of the entrepreneurial mindset in Haiti. CEDEL Haiti was created in order to be the instrument that allows Haitian entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs to realize their dreams. The main programs of CEDEL Haiti include the School Entrepreneurship Program (ProgrES), a national business plan competition and an agricultural pitch program, a bootcamp on starting a business, an annual entrepreneurship forum for women, and a mentoring program for aspiring entrepreneurs. Services offered by CEDEL Haiti include: entrepreneurship training seminars, business plan assistance, coaching of entrepreneurs, consulting support to aspiring entrepreneurs, networking activities, business incubation and a shared workspace, promotion of investment groups, youth conferences, business tours, market analyses and surveys and value chain analysis. CEDEL Haiti has reached more than 10,000 people through its programming. Partners include the US Embassy in Haiti, USAID/KONBIT Ashoka, the Central Bank of Haiti, FOKAL and a number of international universities.

Helping Black and Latinx People in the Innovation Economy


CODE2040 takes its name from the year when it is predicted that minorities will become the majority in the United States. It is a nonprofit organization that is aggressively pursuing its goal of having “Blacks and Latinos proportionally represented in the leading edge of America's innovation economy as technologists, investors, thought leaders and entrepreneurs.” In addition to a flagship Fellows Program that places promising black and Latino college­-level computer science students in internship programs at top tech companies, CODE2040 has also started a Residency Program designed to help black and Latino entrepreneurs build companies and cultivate diversity in their own communities. The one-­year residency provides participating founders with a $40,000 non­equity stipend, as well as additional support from CODE2040, Google for Entrepreneurs and participating founders’ hometown tech hubs. Participants receive hub workspace for the resident and his/her team, along with mentoring by experienced entrepreneurs and investors in the CODE2040 and Google for Entrepreneurs networks.

Helping the Incarcerated Learn About Entrepreneurship

Inmates to Entrepreneurs, USA 

The mission of Inmates to entrepreneurs is to assist people with a criminal background in starting their own business by providing entrepreneurship education in prisons and online. They see venture creation as a means to overcome the fact that the formerly incarcerated face unemployment rates five times the national average, and nearly two thirds of formerly incarcerated individuals find themselves back in prison in just three years. 

Increasing the Number of Black Entrepreneurs in Technology

Black Founders, USA

Black Founders is a national network of African­-American founders that is dedicated to increasing the number of successful black entrepreneurs in tech. The organization creates networking events year­ round, as well as educational programs and a conference series, “Ideas Are Worthless,” in San Francisco, Atlanta, New York and Austin where black founders can network with each other and potential partners and investors. Black Founders started the HBCU Hacks program, which is a well-known series of weekend hackathons that provide students at HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) the opportunity to develop their computer science skills and invent apps or software. In fact, during the last few years, one-­fifth of graduating black students at HBSUs with a degree in engineering have benefited from the hackathon program. As a minority entrepreneur who has founded several startups and successfully raised VC money, I’ve always advised young people of color who are interested in entrepreneurship to actively seek outside help. Even if only 1 percent of resources within the tech community are dedicated to minority founders, those of us who want to see change in minority representation in future years should make the most of these resources ­­ in the hope of maximizing not only our own chances of success but also our ability to help others and pay it forward.

Integrated Suite of Services to Support Entrepreneurs

Neighborhood Development Center, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

Neighborhood Development Center (NDC) is a non-profit, community development financial institution. NDC assists local entrepreneurs with a well-integrated suite of culturally-competent, wraparound business services. Their training program serves as a model for many other communities. They have provided integrated business services to over 5,000 aspiring entrepreneurs, 85% of whom are persons of color. They focus on start-up to expansion.

Integrated Suite of Services to Support Entrepreneurs

ProsperUS Detroit, Detroit, Michigan, USA

A place-based economic development strategy designed to empower low and moderate income, immigrant and minority individuals. Through their culturally competent range of services, they strive to support the entrepreneurial spirit and small business community that exists in Detroit’s neighborhoods. Programs include training, business services and micro-lending.

Lifting Up Women Entrepreneurs to Change the World

Street Business School, USA

Street Business School is a leader in global training to end extreme poverty by empowering women as entrepreneurs, and teaches other organizations how to implement our proven and effective business training. Their world-class and world-changing model seeks to help 1 million people lift themselves from poverty by 2027. They use proven methods to give the poor the knowledge and tools they need to succeed. In only six months, they take that knowledge and tools to create a business of their own. As fearless businesswomen, they build their enterprises, meet their daily needs, and raise capable and confident children who will break the cycle of generational poverty.

Microcredit and Entrepreneurial Support

Grameen Bank, Bangladesh

Grameen Bank (GB) has reversed conventional banking practice by removing the need for collateral and created a banking system based on mutual trust, accountability, participation and creativity. GB provides credit to the poorest of the poor in rural Bangladesh, without any collateral. At GB, credit is a cost effective weapon to fight poverty and it serves as a catalyst in the over all development of socio-economic conditions of the poor who have been kept outside the banking orbit on the ground that they are poor and hence not bankable. Professor Muhammad Yunus, the founder of “Grameen Bank” reasoned that if financial resources can be made available to the poor people on terms and conditions that are appropriate and reasonable, “these millions of small people with their millions of small pursuits can add up to create the biggest development wonder.” As of November, 2019, it has 9.60 million members, 97 percent of whom are women. With 2,568 branches, GB provides services in 81,678 villages, covering more than 93 percent of the total villages in Bangladesh. Grameen Bank’s positive impact on its poor and formerly poor borrowers has been documented in many independent studies carried out by external agencies including the World Bank, the International Food Research Policy Institute (IFPRI) and the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS).

Microlending for Entrepreneurs

United Prosperity, USA

United Prosperity is a nonprofit organization providing an online lending platform connecting lenders to poor entrepreneurs across the globe. A Kiva-like peer-to-peer loaning system allows anyone with spare cash to guarantee loans to entrepreneurs in need. Lenders select the entrepreneur they want to support and lend any amount they wish. United Prosperity then consolidates the loan amount and passes it on to the entrepreneur through a local bank. For every $1 given by the lender, the bank makes a nearly $2 loan to the entrepreneur through a partner Microfinance Institution (MFI). Once a loan or a loan guarantee has been made, the entrepreneur’s progress is tracked online. When loans are repaid, lenders get their money back. They then have the opportunity to recycle it by lending or guaranteeing the loan to another entrepreneur. These microloans aim to help entrepreneurs, mostly women, grow their small businesses. United Prosperity has transferred more than $280,000 in loans to 1,300 entrepreneurs. Moreover, MFI helps build entrepreneurs’ credit history with local banking systems, thus encouraging more banks to lend to them.

Microsoft Global Social Entrepreneurship Initiative

Microsoft Corporation, USA

Microsoft’s global initiative is designed to help social enterprise startups build and scale their companies to do good globally. The program is available in 140 countries and actively seeks to support underrepresented founders with diverse perspectives and backgrounds. The criteria to qualify for the program include a business metric that measures impact on an important social or environmental challenge; an established product or service that will benefit from access to enterprise customers; and a commitment to the ethical and responsible use of AI.  Microsoft is trying to provide the foundational building blocks to help social entrepreneurs create companies that can achieve worldwide impact. Social enterprises that become part of the Global Social Entrepreneurship program will receive access to free Microsoft cloud technologies, including up to $120,000 in Azure credits, along with technical support and guidance. A dedicated program manager will help Global Social Entrepreneurship startups market and sell solutions and connect to large commercial organizations and nongovernmental organizations that are potential customers. Participants focused on sustainability, accessibility, and skills and employability are also eligible for grants. Social enterprises that join the Global Social Entrepreneurship program will be part of a worldwide community of like-minded innovators who come together to share ideas, foster connections and celebrate success.

Partnering to Accelerate Entrepreneurship (PACE) Initiative


USAID launched the Partnering to Accelerate Entrepreneurship (PACE) initiative with the goal of spurring innovations that accelerate the creation of promising, high growth, and sustainable entrepreneurial ventures across the developing world. Through PACE, USAID invests millions of dollar to help identify, test, and implement financially sustainable models that accelerate the growth of small and growing businesses that promote broad-based economic prosperity or address development challenges in areas such as food security, health, and energy access.

Partnering for Job Creation in Uganda

UNIDO (United Nations) and Ugandan Ministry of Education and Sports

A program to introduce entrepreneurship into Uganda’s education system for both stages of secondary education: ordinary level and advanced level. The curriculum was developed and implemented by the Ministry of Education and Sports in partnership with academia, the private sector and international development organizations. It includes the development of entrepreneurship syllabi, teacher guides, student textbooks, monitoring tools and in-service teacher training. Students are encouraged to adopt entrepreneurial attitudes, coached to identify business opportunities within their communities and taught how to manage a small business. From a pilot program with ten secondary schools, the initiative has been expanded to include  over 2,000 secondary schools across the country. Entrepreneurial activities allow students to generate their own income and become more financially independent from their parents.

UNIDO established similar programs in RwandaNamibia, and Mozambique

Poverty, Micro-enterprises and Funding

National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development, India

NABARD is a premier Central Government Institution, is the pioneer in supporting and funding various banks, NGOs, SHGs in prompting micro-enterprises and eradicating poverty from the country. 

Programs for Economic Empowerment and Education

Indego Africa, Rwanda and Ghana

Indego Africa is a nonprofit social enterprise that supports women, including refugees, in Rwanda and Ghana through economic empowerment and education. They aim to break intergenerational cycles of poverty. To do so, Indego Africa provides female artisans with the tools and support necessary to become independent businesswomen and drive local development. Partnering with 18 cooperatives of female artisans, Indego Africa sells handcrafted products through an e-commerce site, collaborations with designers and brands and at boutiques worldwide. To develop their entrepreneurial skills, Indego Africa provides artisans with a mix of training and support programs addressing entrepreneurship business and leadership issues. Indego currently employs over 600 women, 58 percent of whom make over $2 a day. According to the World Bank, $2 a day marks the entry point into Africa’s growing middle class.

Resources to Help Undocumented Immigrants Pursue Opportunities

Immigrants Rising (USA)



Immigrants Rising is a non-profit community organization founded in 2006, and based out of the San Francisco Bay Area. Their mission is to empower undocumented young people to achieve educational and career goals through personal, institutional and policy transformation. They started as an initiative to support undocumented students, with students who were already advocating for opportunities to learn and improve their lives. Their work is both driven by and for undocumented young people, and they have a focus on building and strengthening young persons’ individual and collective strengths and resources necessary to learn and thrive. Immigrants Rising believes that personal transformation in young people can inspire entire communities, and through individual successes, increase understanding, change policy and open access to greater opportunities for all. They develop educational partnerships with institutions, and their strategies provide life-changing financial support that enables undocumented young people to overcome systemic barriers while developing career training, and leadership capacity of the undocumented community. Their services include Immigration Legal-Intake Service, California In-State Tuition Tool, Mental Health Connector, and Wellness Gatherings. They train undocumented young people to reclaim and share their personal stories to strengthen community bonds, transform hearts and minds, and advance policy legislation. Their related website at https://undocuhustle.org/  addresses the entrepreneurial spirit at the heart of the immigrant experience by showing immigrants how to leverage their skills, knowledge and experience to generate income through contracting or business start-up opportunities.

Rural Poverty in Africa

Village Enterprise works to end extreme poverty in rural Africa through entrepreneurship and innovation. The program is simple and cost-effective. Village Enterprise equips people living in extreme poverty in rural Africa to start sustainable businesses and savings groups. Graduates from the program generate income and savings from their small businesses that improves their standard of living and breaks the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families. Validated by an independent randomized controlled trial, the Village Enterprise Graduation program provides groups of three entrepreneurs with cash transfers as seed capital, training and ongoing mentoring by a local business mentor. They organize the business groups into Business Savings Groups (BSGs) of 30 entrepreneurs (10 business groups) to allow access to growth capital, provide a safe place for savings, and build social capital. Examples of businesses include livestock, farming, small retail stores and restaurants, tailoring, and beekeeping. Village Enterprise has started over 48,000 businesses and trained over 185,000 East Africans.

Self-Employment and Enterprise Development Program

State of Washington, USA

SEAP in Washington, offers a valuable option to eligible people who wish to run their own business. This program gives one the flexibility and income opportunity unavailable through traditional employment. SEAP is a unique opportunity for to enter into self-employment entrepreneurial training and receive business counseling while collecting unemployment benefits. To be eligible for the Self-Employment Assistance Program (SEAP), one must: qualify for regular unemployment benefits; enroll in a training program that is approved by the Employment Security Department's commissioner; be identified as likely to run out of benefits or be eligible for Commissioner-Approved Training (CAT).

Technology, Entrepreneurship and Ecosystem Development

SourceLink, USA

SourceLink builds communities that drive economies forward through entrepreneurship. SourceLink specializes in research and development solutions for the entrepreneurial journey. They work to provide tailored resources including a mix of technology, community engagement, and measurement to lead best practices in entrepreneurship and economic development. Launched in 2003, SourceLink has helped over 100 communities develop unique ecosystems and infrastructures. They provide entrepreneurs with components and services to identify, connect, and engage in a process of continuous improvement to drive desired economic impact. Over time, SourceLink has built a successful roadmap that communities of all sizes put to use. Ranging from one-stop shops and small businesses to complex entrepreneurial assessment studies, SourceLink identifies and conducts impactful research and development initiatives to empower the entrepreneurial community. The SourceLink Network spreads across various locations from Seattle to San Juan, and works to empower local leaders and communities to achieve entrepreneurship-led development goals.

The SOMO Project

SOMO Project, USA and Kenya

The SOMO Project identifies, trains, funds and mentors entrepreneurs looking to drive social change by building enterprises in their own low-income urban communities. They invest in social entrepreneurs and provide the training and tools to help them build enterprises that change their communities from within. By investing in the right people, they help break the cycle of poverty and help bring long-term stability to urban slum areas.

Support Artisan Women in Latin America

Mercardo Global, USA

Mercardo Global is a social enterprise organization that links indigenous artisans in rural Latin American communities to international sales opportunities. As a result, this organization helps provide sustainable income-earning opportunities, access to business training and community-based education programs. Mercado Global also increases access to microloans for technology, such as sewing machines and floor looms. Mercado Global believes income alone cannot solve long-term problems. Therefore, the organization focuses on both business education and leadership training. In doing so, Mercado Global enables artisans to address systemic problems within their communities. Artisans are given microloans, ideally to purchase equipment that allows them to work more efficiently. They then pay back their loans, allowing another artisan to attain one. Forty-four percent of Mercado Global entrepreneurs held a leadership position within their cooperatives in the last three years. Ninety-six percent participate in the finances of their households. And 77 percent of women voted in their last community election.

Supporting Entrepreneurs for Sustainable Development

SEED Initiative

The SEED Initiative is a multi-country partnership involving Germany, India the Netherlands Norway, South Africa, Spain the United Kingdom, the USA, Switzerland, the UN, Kenya, and Canada. SEED inspires, supports and researches exceptional, entrepreneurial, nascent, multi-stakeholder partnerships for locally-led sustainable development . The initiative focuses on 'business as unusual' - innovative action delivering real solutions through project cooperation among small and large businesses, local and international NGOs, women's groups, labour organisations, public authorities and UN agencies, and others working in the field of sustainable development. The SEED Initiative aims to support outstanding and innovative start-up entrepreneurs working in partnership in developing countries to improve livelihoods and manage natural resources sustainably; develop practical tools to help social and environmental entrepreneurs to scale up; influence policy-makers to create enabling environments for sustainable development businesses; and inspire new entrepreneurial ventures to deliver social and environmental benefits.


Supporting the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs in Angola


Chevron contributed $1,000,000 to a Unido-Chevron partnership initiative to introduce entrepreneurship as a subject in secondary schools in Angola. The entrepreneurship curriculum program aims to develop entrepreneurship skills among young people. The program helps to bring together young people, the education system and the private sector, linking the classroom to the business world. the young people acquire skills to identify, develop and manage new business opportunities.

Trust-based Model


An emerging Austin nonprofit called Just seeks to provide capital, coaching, and community to Austin’s low-income entrepreneurs through a microcredit model based on trust-based lending. Starting with a loan of just $750 with more available to them as they succeed, entrepreneurs are able to buy a chair at a salon, launch a cleaning business, or sell a handmade good. Applicants aren’t vetted based on their credit score, business plan or even collateral. Instead, they’re vetted and invited to participate in the program by current Just entrepreneurs. Just’s trust-based model uses the power of peer-based accountability to manage credit risk and ensure repayment. The group trains leaders, typically Just graduates, to create teams of Just entrepreneurs, with each member having been vouched for by other members. This results in a tight-knit, peer-based group, which is naturally mutually supportive and mutually accountable.

Women Empowerment Services

Solar Sister

Everyone should have access to clean energy. And the team behind Solar Sister believes women are a key part of the solution to the clean energy challenge. In sub-Saharan Africa, more than 600 million people have no access to electricity. Moreover, more than 700 million must rely on harmful fuels. However, women bear the majority burden of this energy poverty and disproportionately shoulder the harmful effects. In order to address this issue and create more equity around clean energy and economic opportunities, Solar Sister invests in women’s enterprises in off-grid communities. By doing so, the Solar Sister team builds networks of women entrepreneurs. Women are first given access to clean, renewable energy. Then, they participate in a direct sales network to build sustainable businesses. Centering local women in a rapidly growing clean energy sector is essential to eradicating poverty. This allows helps achieve sustainable solutions to climate change and a host of development issues. Evidence shows the income of self-employed rural women with access to energy is more than double the income of those without access to energy. For rural female wage or salary workers, access to energy is correlated with 59 percent higher wages. Solar Sister is currently helping over 1,200 entrepreneurs. The team is also partnering with Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, Sustainable Energy for All, U.N. Women and Women in Solar Energy.

World Education Initiative: Empowering Vulnerable Children to Thrive

Bantwana, World Education, Inc.

Bantwana envisions a world where children are healthy, secure, and can reach their full potential. They use an evidence-based, socio-ecological model of comprehensive care to ensure that children and their caregivers have access to the support they need to grow and improve their overall wellbeing. Currently reaching over 600,000 people across six countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Bantwana engages at all levels. They work in close partnership with more than 90 organizations, clinics, and governments (local and national) to build and sustain systems that care for children. Through their work with dedicated and innovative community leaders, Bantwana targets countries that face growing numbers of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), and invests in the core services that mitigate the impacts these children face. Bantwana’s current projects span from Early Childhood Development (ECD) Programs, to School Health Outreach Programs (SHOP), and HIV Prevention Life Skills Education and Rapid and Effective Action Combatting HIV/AIDS (REACH), and many more. Bantwana forms long-term partnerships and commitments with countries, working together with communities and governments, to develop innovative solutions to address long-term, entrenched challenges at scale and sustainably. Bantwana promotes transformative lasting change through their mission: to improve the wellbeing of vulnerable children and their caregivers and families affected by HIV and AIDS and poverty.

Youth Employment through Entrepreneurship in Tunisia

UNIDO, USAID, Government of Italy, Hewlett-Packard (HP)

An initiative to encourage youth employment through entrepreneurship and enterprise development in four vulnerable regions of Tunisia: Kairouan, Kasserine, Le Kef and Sidi Bouzid. The project aims at enhancing the knowledge and delivery capacity of local business support institutions and provides direct support to entrepreneurs and enterprises through technical assistance, training and business coaching. The project provides a business coaching program for start-ups, and assists aspiring entrepreneurs in preparing business plans. Entrepreneurs learn how to apply the innovative IT tools and business concepts of HP’s Learning Initiative for Entrepreneurs (HP LIFE) to their projects. Educators and students are trained through HP LIFE e-Learning workshops that is organized at the Higher Institute of Technological Studies (ISET) and in universities in the four regions.

Towards gender parity: women in creative industries in Pakistan

UNIDO and Pakistan Stone Development Company (PASDEC)

Expanding employment and creating livelihood opportunities for women in Pakistan has been achieved by the establishment of the Business Growth Center which aims to work towards enhancing ability, mobility, visibility and connectivity of women entrepreneurs. Moreover, linkages with the Universities, private sector, and Vocational Training Centers are created through the foundation of Creative Industries Centers (such as in IQRA University). The strategy focuses on making all sectors of the economy more gender inclusive, by finding ways to include women into the traditionally male dominated sectors of the economy. This identifies and inserts value adding sub-sectors with high potential for women to access the already existing, male dominated, value chains. Such creative sub-sectors harness women’s creativity with the outcome of highly marketable products. These non-traditional parts of the economy mostly rely on creative, culture based designs and heritage based knowledge in which women play a pivotal role through their non-transferable, creative skills. These sectors include marble mosaic, gems and jewels, as well as home textiles.

UNIDO, Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation and Moroccan Ministry of Industry, Commerce and New Technologies

Fostering Women Entrepreneurs in Morocco

An entrepreneurship program that seeks to improve the income opportunities of the rural population in Morocco while enhancing the competitiveness of small-scale olive oil producing, textile and fruits and vegetable drying groups managed by women. The project has included improvement of the production processes, the provision of new equipment to make production faster, better and safer, training in management, good manufacturing, traceability systems, food safety, marketing, networking and finances. It ensured that the businesses could comply with stringent market standards and regulations, overcome barriers to trade and facilitate exports. The program has also assisted women in diversifying production to include more value added products.