About Us

About Us

Our Values

Mandate

Accelerate Prosperity (AP) is an initiative of the AKDN in Central and South Asia, offering formal structures to support and catalyze sustainable small and growing businesses. Started in 2016 as a joint initiative of the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) and the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development’s Industrial Promotion Services (AKFED IPS), AP aims to inspire entrepreneurship, facilitate innovative business models, coach promising entrepreneurs, create networks and mentorship opportunities, and accelerate business growth.

Mission

To inspire rising entrepreneurs in emerging regions to grow new markets, create sustainable employment, and strengthen communities. To create high growth high impact businesses by promoting entrepreneurship and creating space to facilitate more appropriate technical expertise, mentoring and creative financial solutions, which can bridge the gaps between investors, government, donors and entrepreneurs, and spur dialogue between stakeholders in the business ecosystem. Its long term mission is to create inclusive economic growth and empowerment, with a focus on youth and women in rural and semi rural areas.

Vision

An inclusive and prosperous society powered by entrepreneurs. In 5-7 years’ time:
● Global leader on enterprise growth acceleration in fragile states, with a niche in supporting youth and women entrepreneurs, and Small and Growing Businesses (SGBs) that link rural and urban areas.
● Lead player in the startup and SME ecosystem in rural and semi urban areas of Pakistan, that generates investable entrepreneurs and businesses.
● Central place for investable youth specially women entrepreneurs.
● Key advisor and partner for government, donors and development finance institutions (DFIs) on issues around rural entrepreneurship.
● Facilitator of regional trade in Tajikistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Accelerate Prosperity at a Glance

Launched

October 2016

Loans and Investments

Startup capital: Up to $20,000
Growth capital: Up to $50,000
Intermediated capital: <$200,000

Countries

Tajikistan (2016)
Pakistan (2017)
Kyrgyz Republic (2019)
Afghanistan (2021)

Impact Promoted

 A thriving entrepreneurial culture
Innovative, profitable and investment-
ready business models
Improved access to patient capital
Jobs for youth, women and men

Services/Products

Tailored business coaching and mentoring to support entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses
Networking opportunities and access to market linkages to unlock growth potential of startups and SGBs
Provide patient-debt financing to selected businesses and post-financing technical assistance services

Sector Focus

Innovative and disruptive ideas from any industry are accepted, with a focus on high potential sectors such as agriculture, ICT, health-tech, ed-tech, early childhood development, textiles, adventure tourism, and green-tech.

Launched

October 2016

Countries

Tajikistan (2016)
Pakistan (2017)
Kyrgyz Republic (2019)
Afghanistan (2021)

Services/Products
  • Tailored business coaching and mentoring to support entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses
  • Networking opportunities and access to market linkages to
    unlock growth potential of startups and SGBs
  • Provide patient-debt financing to selected businesses and post-financing technical assistance services
Loans & Investments

Startup capital: Up to $20,000

Growth capital: Up to $50,000

Intermediated capital: <$200,000

Impact Promoted

  •  A thriving entrepreneurial culture
  • Innovative, profitable and investment-ready business models
  • Improved access to patient capital
  • Jobs for youth, women and men
Sector Focus

Innovative and disruptive ideas from any industry are accepted, with a focus on high potential sectors such as agriculture, ICT, health-tech, ed-tech, early childhood development, textiles, adventure tourism, and green-tech.

Accelerate Prosperity at a Glance

Launched

October 2016

Countries

Tajikistan (2016)
Pakistan (2017)
Kyrgyz Republic (2018)
Afghanistan (2021)

Services/Products
  • Tailored business coaching and mentoring to support entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses
  • Networking opportunities and access to market linkages to
    unlock growth potential of startups and SGBs
  • Provide patient-debt financing to selected businesses and post-financing technical assistance services
Loans & Investments

Startup capital: Up to $20,000

Growth capital: Up to $50,000

Intermediated capital: <$200,000

Impacts Promoted
  • A thriving entrepreneurial culture
  • Innovative, profitable and investment-ready business models
  • Improved access to patient capital
  • Jobs for youth, women and men
Sector Focus

Innovative and disruptive ideas from any industry accepted, with a focus on high potential sectors such as Agribusiness, ICT, HealthTech, EdTech and ECD, Textiles, Sustainable Tourism, Green Businesses (e.g., energy, recycling)

Founders

AKDN

Aga Khan Development Network

Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) works to improve the quality of life for tens of millions of people in 30 countries. Many of its institutions have been operating in the developing world for over 50 years. Today, the Network employs over 80,000 people. Its budget for non-profit social and cultural activities stands at US$ 950 million. The Network’s economic development arm, the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, generates annual revenues of US$ 4.3 billion, and all of its surpluses are reinvested in further development activities, usually in fragile, remote or post-conflict regions.

Industrial Promotion Services (IPS)

AKFED works with governments, international corporations, international financial institutions and donors to create solutions to pressing infrastructure needs, including power generation and telecommunications. AKFED has invested in, and manages, over 40 industrial project companies in Africa and Asia.

Aga Khan Foundation (AKF)

Established in 1967, the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) brings together human, financial and technical resources to address the challenges faced by the poorest and most marginalised communities in the world. Special emphasis is placed on investing in human potential, expanding opportunity and improving the overall quality of life.

Background and Rationale

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are vital economic drivers that create jobs, boost productivity, and encourage innovation. In fragile states, the success of SMEs is critical for development – helping foster socio- economic stability, reduce migration, and enable self-employment and work opportunities for youth, women and men. Yet the support needed for firms to grow and scale is largely absent, leaving many aspiring entrepreneurs without access to technical support and risk-tolerent, affordable capital.

In 2015, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) began to assess the landscape of SMEs, with a focus on financing and technical assistance in four countries where it has operated for decades: Pakistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and the Kyrgyz Republic. The AKDN began initiating SME ecosystem assessments and consultations with women and men business managers and owners. The assessments found that, despite risk-mitigating schemes, existing financial institutions are still not providing the kind of financing required for SMEs to grow and thrive in these countries, with terms that are too short (maximum 3 years), collateral that is too high (100- 120%), and standard, inflexible repayment terms based on predictable cash flows and short grace periods. As a result, most start-ups still fail, while existing SMEs get stuck in a low-growth trap, limited by a lack of longer- term investment capital and customized technical assistance.

AKDN’s Response: Accelerate Prosperity

Accelerate Prosperity initiative (AP) aims to support and catalyze sustainable small and growing businesses. Started in 2016 as a joint initiative of the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) and the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development’s Industrial Promotion Services (AKFED IPS), AP aims to inspire entrepreneurship, facilitate innovative business models, coach promising entrepreneurs, create networks and mentorship opportunities, and accelerate business growth.

Participation in the program is competitive, and participants pitch their business ideas to a panel of experts in order to pass from each stage. Investment decisions are based on set criteria, including a clear market niche, competitive advantage, strong revenue and profit models, potential for growth and employment creation, and potential to promote gender equality. For investment-ready enterprises, AP offers “patient” capital, even if uneven cash flows render them poorly suited for traditional bank financing, together with customized pre- and post-financing technical assistance.

Journey from Conception to Creation

Assessing SME Ecosystem

In 2015, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) began to assess the landscape of SMEs, with a focus on financing and technical assistance in four countries where it has operated for decades: Pakistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and the Kyrgyz Republic. 

AKDN began initiating SME ecosystem assessments and consultations with male and female business managers and owners. 

Lack of Access to Financing

The assessments found that, despite risk-mitigating schemes, existing financial institutions are not providing the kind of financing required for SMEs to grow and thrive in these countries. In most cases, either, the terms are too short (maximum 3 years), collateral requirement is too high (100- 120%), or the repayment terms are standard/inflexible and are based on predictable cash flows and short grace periods.

Failure and Stagnant Growth of SMEs

As a result, most start-ups and small and growing businesses end up failing, while existing SMEs get stuck in a low-growth trap, limited by a lack of stable, long- term investment capital and customized technical assistance.

Accelerate Prosperity Initiative

 

In 2016, the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) and the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development’s Industrial Promotion Services (AKFED IPS) jointly initiated Accelerate Prosperity (AP). AP supports entrepreneurship and the creation of small and growing businesses, with a focus on facilitating innovative business models, providing tailored business coaching, and giving access to networking opportunities and market linkages to accelerate business growth.

Selection and Evaluation Criteria

Participation in the AP programs is competitive, and participants pitch their business ideas to a panel of experts in order to pass each stage of the process.

Investment decisions are based on set criteria, including but not limited to a clear market niche, competitive advantage, strong revenue and profit models, potential for business growth and employment creation, and capacity to promote gender inclusivity.

Type of Financing Offered by AP

For investment-ready enterprises, AP offers “patient” capital to even if uneven cash flows render them poorly suited for traditional bank financing, together with customized pre- and post-financing technical assistance.

AP offers patient-debt financing which refers to a type of debt finance to startups/early-stage businesses which is defined by lenient repayment terms, flexible covenants, and grace period.