The Business Growth Initiative Project
A USAID Center of Excellence in Enterprise Development
USAID’s Office of Economic Growth of the Bureau for Economic Growth, Agriculture and Trade (EGAT/EG) has established the Business Growth Initiative (BGI) project to promote best practices in enterprise development as a critical element for Economic Growth. BGI will serve as a key element in building a Community of Practice for Enterprise Development, both within USAID and its development partners and among the broader development community worldwide.
BGI seeks to provide technical leadership in enterprise development for USAID, for its development partners, and for the wider communities of practice in enterprise development. The project builds on the Enterprise Development Study and Handbook previously financed by EGAT/EG. It is meant to provide both direct and indirect assistance through project designs, project evaluations, research, technical briefs, workshops and seminars and through pilot demonstration projects.
One of the primary aims of the BGI project is to assist USAID professionals and staff engaged in enterprise development activities to perform tasks more effectively, while promoting best practices in project implementation.
BGI does this through a variety of activities and products:
- Providing services to Missions and Bureaus through direct support in concept development, project designs, evaluations, assessments, development of economic growth strategies, and through the Enterprise Development Diagnostic (MEASURE) tool.
- Conducting original research to improve the bank of knowledge about enterprise development through short technical notes and longer research papers to guide intervention decisions to spur enterprise development, and thus economic growth.
- Hosting local and international workshops and trainings to build capacity and share knowledge on key practice areas in enterprise development.
- Compiling best practices and lessons learned in enterprise development, specifically related to the recommendations in the Enterprise Growth Initiatives: Strategic Directions and Options Study and Handbook.
This Knowledge Management portal serves as one of the main interfaces of the BGI project with USAID staff and other development professionals. The portal provides information on the research and work that BGI has done in the life of the project, and also provides a clearinghouse of information on enterprise development.
BGI is implemented by Weidemann Associates, Inc. (Prime Contractor) and by J.E. Austin Associates and Management Systems International (MSI) (Subcontractors).
BGI Implementing Partners
Weidemann Associates, Inc. is a leading international firm working in microenterprise development, economic development, information technologies, and agriculture/agribusiness/rural development in the U.S. and developing countries. Our firm has worked on projects worldwide, from Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and the New Independent States, to Africa, Asia, and the Near East. Principals of Weidemann Associates are experienced in over 60 countries working with international organizations, as well as private businesses, state and local governments, and non-governmental and community development organizations.
Microenterprise Design & Evaluations
Weidemann Associates and its principal associates and consultants have supported development of the microfinance industry from the early 1990’s. We have started up micro and rural finance institutions, developed new products for banks and non-bank financial institutions, turned around ailing programs, designed new activities and evaluated existing activities, organized seminars and conferences for the sector, and training practitioners.
USAID’s Office of Economic Growth of the Bureau for Economic Growth, Agriculture and Trade (EGAT/EG) has established the Business Growth Initiative (BGI) project to promote best practices in enterprise development as a critical element for Economic Growth. BGI was designed to serve as a key element in building a Community of Practice for Enterprise Development, both within USAID and its development partners and among the broader development community worldwide. This project provides technical leadership in enterprise development through both direct and indirect assistance in the following areas:
Assistance to missions on project designs,
Project evaluations and pilot demonstration projects,
Research on various enterprise development topics, and
Technical briefs, workshops and seminars on best practices in enterprise development.
Project Monitoring & Evaluation
Weidemann Associates has also conducted assessments and evaluations for Missions and projects of USAID under the Economic Growth Office. The evaluations have examined past projects and strategies for economic growth, including agricultural development.
Training and Workshops
Weidemann brings more than a decade of hands-on experience in management of training events and workshops. Conferences, seminars and training events play a critical role in communicating and disseminating information and best practices to practitioners, policy makers, researchers, and development institutions. Our conference planning work aims to strengthen professional and social results, increase financial returns for clients, and reduce client administrative burdens. We benefit our clients with operational experience in planning trainings and conferences from beginning to end, in countries around the world.
Information Systems Tools for Remote Project Administration
Recognizing the emerging access to the internet around the world, Weidemann developed tools that improve remote project administration, ease the reporting burden, lower project costs and improve data reliability. For example, the MRR system tracks results from more than 600 USAID development partners worldwide. A newly implemented online system will track 80,000 scholarships to primary school girls in 15 African countries. A grant monitoring system automates reporting for grants issued from 1996 to the present for 44 countries valued at more than $118 million.
Management Systems International (MSI) has been active in Economic Growth projects since the firm’s inception in 1981. Our current portfolio includes:
- Macroeconomic and microeconomic analysis and assessments;
- Business enabling environment technical assistance, including policy reform;
- Entrepreneurship development; and
- Project monitoring and evaluation.
Macroeconomics and Microeconomics
MSI specializes in development macro and micro economic analyses of drivers and constraints to growth. More specifically, we provide macroeconomic analyses for clients needing a detailed understanding of the mechanics of growth and poverty reduction in targeted countries and regions. Our recognized anticorruption and good governance expertise has helped numerous economic institutions, both at the public and private level, become more efficient and transparent, and acquire the capacity to perform economic governance functions effectively to eliminate barriers to growth.
Business Enabling Environment and Policy Reform
MSI supports enterprise development by fostering an enabling environment using top-down and bottom-up approaches. We work with both private and public stakeholders in identifying, prioritizing, planning and implementing activities to address constraints and take advantage of opportunities for business growth. We analyze conceptual frameworks, business indicators, case studies, and extract lessons from donor experiences which serve as strategic building blocks and programmatic tools for our clients. We also implement projects designed to provide quick and effective technical assistance focused on improving the legal, regulatory, judicial and administrative environment that directly affects micro, small, and medium enterprises.
MSI has a well-established worldwide reputation in entrepreneurship training with the development of three related programs:
- The Entrepreneurship Workshop for identifying and expanding participants’ potential to initiate or improve small businesses or other entrepreneurial activities;
- The Entrepreneurship Development Program Installation for equipping local institutions with the capacity to conduct and sustain the program over time;
- The Entrepreneurship Selection Workshop to train bank officials, trainers, and program administrators in procedures for identifying individuals with high entrepreneurial potential.
Monitoring and Evaluation
MSI is well known as a thought leader in monitoring and evaluation, and for providing methodologically rigorous M&E services to various institutions such as donors and the public and private sectors worldwide using an evidence-based model to conduct formative, summative and impact evaluations. We evaluate a wide-range of economic growth-oriented activities, including projects providing assistance to micro, small, and medium enterprises; trade capacity building and investment programs; and donor economic growth strategies.
J.E. Austin Associates, Inc. (JAA) assists business and government leaders to implement strategic changes designed to achieve rapid growth that is economically, politically, socially and environmentally sustainable. JAA is a proven leader in adapting the most advanced business tools, management methodologies and analytical techniques to the realities of business and policy environments in lower income countries and transitional economies. JAA’s areas of expertise are in strategic planning, competitiveness, export growth, agribusiness, investment promotion, private sector development, financial analysis and institutional strengthening. Since 1986, JAA has completed more than 500 projects in over 100 countries.
JAA stresses the "downloading" of tools, methodologies and approaches to local partners and ensures that they have the best information, lessons and skills available to identify and implement initiatives most likely to achieve sustainable results. This is because JAA believes that economic growth; competitiveness; and other development challenges can be addressed in highly leveraged ways by involving and empowering local stakeholders to the maximum extent possible.
In designing, conducting, and interpreting private sector assessments, JAA has recognized the critical link between achieving enterprise development and sustainable increases in income and wealth, and also in supporting the growth of stable democracies. In designing practical programs after these assessments, JAA has gained recognition as an industry leader in fostering sustainable business growth, and equitable economic development.
JAA’s Private Sector Development (PSD) approaches include sound analysis of economies’ institutional environment for business, combining competitiveness analyses with quantitative and qualitative data gathering. In this approach, JAA relies on traditional economic data, statistical sampling, and surveys; but also on goal-oriented discussion and information exchange among private and public sector focus groups and business associations. JAA has also used surveys of private firms to gather descriptive statistics on the formal and informal private sectors and to understand entrepreneurs’ perceptions of institutional and policy bottlenecks, training needs, and business opportunities.
JAA’s PSD implementation approaches include proven and innovative activities directed to all levels of business. These activities include:
- Strengthening Business Service Providers - JAA works with private providers, associations, NGOs and other organizations that directly serve the business sector, helping them to develop more effective and market/demand based modes of service provision, to provide more comprehensive management training programs, and to enhance their ability to act as a mechanism for dialogue within and on behalf of the business sector/industry.
- Catalyzing Enterprise Development - JAA encourages the removal of market, information and administrative constraints on enterprises as an important step toward priming the economic environment for expansion. However, JAA recognizes that removing constraints is not enough to spur growth; enterprises require access to a range of skills and financial resources to grow quickly and sustainably.
JAA’s PSD activities are very closely tied to the JAA competitiveness approach. Many of the same tools and practices used in competitiveness projects are adjusted to PSD project contexts in terms of strategy development, economic analyses, diagnostic studies, benchmarking, business development services, small and medium sized enterprise development, and training.
- About E3/EG
- Technical Areas
- Commercial Law and Enabling Environment
- Cross Cutting
- Enterprise Development
- Financial Sector
- Asset-Based Finance
- Banking and Financial Infrastructure
- Branchless Banking
- Business Enabling Environment
- Capital Markets
- Credit Bureaus
- Developing Corporate Bond Markets
- Health Sector Financing
- Mobile Money
- Non Banks
- Rapid Financial Soundness Assessment
- Rural and Agriculture Finance
- SME Finance
- Secured Financing
- Sub-Sovereign Finance
- Value Chain Finance
- Project Analysis and Diagnostic Tools
- Ongoing Programs
- Archived Programs
- Resource Library