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

Diana handing out chocolate samples

EQ program participant and Xocolat owner Diana Munné at the Chocoa Fair in Amsterdam

Program overview: EQ increased productivity and sales for high-value fruit and vegetable value chains (such as pineapple, avocado, and 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: Through 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 aged 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 more than $6.5 million.


Assistance in Building Afghanistan by Developing Enterprises (ABADE)

Funder: USAID

A stack of folded carpets

Folded carpets. Photo from Meruyert Gonullu.

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: Through ABADE, IESC created 298 public-private alliances 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 alliances—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 Project

Funder: European Union

Attendees listening to a workshop leader outside

IESC business incubator workshop in Hanthana, Sri Lanka

Program overview: The Tourism Resilience Project supported Sri Lanka’s tourism recovery and resilience by retaining jobs and small businesses through small grants and technical assistance. IESC supported sustainability and innovation through the development of new and diversified tourism products. We also supported 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 helped MSMEs in the tourism sector adapt and respond to changing market demand through a business incubation program. 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 along the trail refined their business concepts and products to meet the emerging demands of this new and growing tourism opportunity.

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