November 13, 2020

Sharing Reflections From ANDE’s Annual Conference

ANDE's 2016 Annual Conference was held in Leesburg, Virginia, September 26 - 28, 2016. The event is targeted at high-level executives of ANDE member organizations, including leading investors, capacity development providers, foundations, banks, corporations, and research institutions.

First as an entrepreneur and now as an integral part of Innovations in Healthcare (IiH), has given me the good fortune of viewing social entrepreneurship through many different lenses. One such incredible experience was attending the ANDE (Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs) Annual Conference on behalf of IiH. Hosted at Lansdowne, Leesburg the venue couldn’t have been more picturesque, as it captured our spirit and imagination with Virginia’s breathtaking landscape. ANDE’s Annual Conference is the largest event hosted by ANDE (Aspen Institute), with over 250 attendees representing over 170 organizations from across the globe. The ANDE Network brings together laser sharp focus on enabling Small and Growing Businesses (SGBs) by providing them with financial, education and business support services.

Over three days, across various formats, ranging from plenary talks, to TED- style micro-talks, to small break-out sessions provided multiple opportunities to closely interact with other participants. The keynote speaker Ali Mufuruki was incredibly inspiring, as he shared his humbling experience of creating one of the largest business houses in Africa. Another piece of work that really caught my attention was learning more about ANDE’s Global Accelerator Learning Initiative (GALI).  ANDE invested $2.3M towards setting up GALI along with partners such as US Global Development Lab at the U.S. Agency for International Development, Omidyar Network, The Lemelson Foundation, and the Argidius Foundation.

Innovations in Healthcare was also invited by ANDE to moderate a session on Investing in Small and Growing Businesses in Healthcare”. As Moderator of this session I had the good fortune of interacting closely with Tara Murphy Forde (Vice President, Impact & Strategic Initiatives Global Partnerships), Anna De La Cruz (Consultant, Linked Foundation) and Ammara Niyaz (Investment Analyst, Grand Challenges Canada).

Through our engaging conversation that lasted over an hour, we highlighted significant innovation within impact investing. Exploring a combination of grand plus debt models to exploring formats such as social impact bonds brought to forefront the risk appetite of investors, as they work closely with social entrepreneurs in building market-driven solutions. The incessant focus and rigor on population health, and long-term outcomes clearly reflected the commitment within impact investors to drive large-scale change by innovating formats through which they brought financial resources on the table.

At the end of three days, I felt energized to see social entrepreneurship emerging as an independent industry. Even though it stands riddled with challenges of sustainability and scale, the promising commitment of each represented stakeholder at the ANDE Annual Conference, transpires hope and confidence for a bright and transformed tomorrow!

Image above:  Zeena Johar (Innovations in Healthcare) moderating a session at ANDE Annual Conference on – “Investing in Small and Growing Businesses in Healthcare” with Tara Forde (Global Partnerships), Anna De La Cruz (Linked Foundation) and Ammara Niyaz (Grand Challenges Canada)