Accelerate Prosperity is an initiative of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in Central and South Asia, with a mandate to create sustainable enterprises by investing in companies that can enable social, environmental and economic growth while delivering good capital returns.
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 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.
Know the parent institutions
Aga Khan Development Network
The 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)
Aga Khan Foundation (AKF)
LOANS & INVESTMENTS
Growth capital: Up to $50,000
Intermediated capital: <$500,000
Kyrgyz Republic (2018)
Innovative, profitable and investment- ready business models
Increased private capital deployments
New jobs for youth, women and men
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.