Our Work

Enterprise Development and Entrepreneurship

Helping enterprises develop, grow, and thrive

Strengthening micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and fostering entrepreneurship has been at the heart of IESC’s work since our founding in 1964. We work with enterprises and entrepreneurs across economic sectors—including agriculture, information technology, and tourism, to name a few—to launch, innovate, and grow. We facilitate MSMEs’ access to knowledge and human, technological, and financial resources, honing their capacity to meet market demand and requirements, apply new technologies, improve business processes, and integrate into global markets. Through our efforts, MSMEs expand domestic and international sales, create jobs, and improve standards of living.

Program Examples

Dominican Republic

Exporting Quality (EQ)

Funder: USDA Food for Progress

Program Overview: EQ increased productivity and sales for high-value fruit and vegetable value chains (e.g., pineapple, avocado, cocoa). The program used a combination of technical assistance and intensive farmer training to ensure that food products being sold in local and export markets were grown, harvested, and handled under sanitary conditions with accountability.

Relation to IESC Expertise: Under EQ, IESC identified a core group of 30 young entrepreneurs and helped them form the Young Entrepreneurs Network and facilitated the development of business plans to effectively meet international market demand. Within four months, the young entrepreneurs established 37 contracts, resulting in $500,000 in sales to the EU. The network was comprised of producers, exporters, and logistics providers, bringing together more than 100 members age 35 and under who were actively engaged or interested in working in produce exports. In just three years, the Young Entrepreneurs Network increased exports by over $6.5 million.


Assistance in Building Afghanistan by Developing Enterprises (ABADE)

Funder: USAID

Program Overview: ABADE was a flagship enterprise development program that primarily focused on strengthening the productivity of enterprises for sustained growth and job creation. ABADE’s objectives were to increase domestic and foreign investment, stimulate employment, and improve sales of Afghan products. ABADE did so by helping small and medium enterprises (SMEs) access the appropriate equipment and technologies, technical assistance, business-specific inputs, and business enabling environment support that they needed to succeed.

Relation to IESC Expertise:  On the ABADE program, IESC created 298 public-private alliances (PPAs) with Afghan SMEs to foster innovation and investment, and to accelerate productivity and job creation by reducing the risks involved in business expansion. Through these PPAs—across sectors including agriculture and food processing, recycling, carpets, and light manufacturing—IESC invested in Afghan entrepreneurs by helping businesses acquire industry-specific equipment essential for growth, and we provided the technical assistance and expertise necessary to sustain such growth. As part of the alliances, we helped partner SMEs develop and/or refine their business plans, and the SMEs were required to invest a substantial percentage of the total investment to ensure a mutual commitment to implementing the business plan.

Sri Lanka

Tourism Resilience in Sri Lanka

Funder: European Union

Program Overview: Tourism Resilience is supporting Sri Lanka’s tourism recovery and resilience by retaining jobs and small businesses through the provision of small grants and technical assistance; supporting sustainability and innovation through the development of new and diversified tourism products; and supporting small and medium enterprises aligned to those tourism products to help them compete in the changing tourism landscape.

Relation to IESC Expertise: In Sri Lanka, IESC is helping micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the tourism sector to adapt and respond to changing market demand through a business incubation program along the Pekoe Trail. The Pekoe Trail is a 300-kilometer, walking trail that crosses Sri Lanka’s central highlands and promises a new signature experience for tourists. Through incubation workshops, one-on-one mentoring, development of business performance plans, and peer-to-peer learning, local enterprises have been successful in refining their business concepts and products and can now meet the emerging demands of this new and growing tourism opportunity.

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