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New SME Financial Access Initiatives: Private Foundations’ Path to Donor Partnerships

29 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2011  

Benjamin Leo

Center for Global Development; Georgetown University

Date Written: May 3, 2011


In recent years, a number of private foundations and organizations have launched ambitious initiatives to support promising entrepreneurs in developing countries, on both a for-profit and not-for-profit basis. Many of these programs have focused exclusively on building business capacity.

While these tailored programs play an important role in supporting small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) development, their overall effectiveness remains hamstrung in part by continuing constraints on entrepreneurs’ access to expansion and operating capital. Simultaneously, the U.S. government, other bilateral donors, and international financial institutions (IFIs) have launched a series of initiatives that provide both financial and technical assistance to SMEs in developing countries.

Surprisingly, collaboration or formalized partnerships between private foundations and donor agencies has been somewhat limited - particularly on a strategic or globalized basis.

This paper is targeted for these private foundations, especially those focused on women entrepreneurship. First, it provides a brief literature review of the rationale for and against SME initiatives. Second, it presents an overview of existing targeted USG and IFI programs. Lastly, it offers several new, incremental options for private foundations to establish focused partnerships with donor agencies in support of their ongoing organizational goals.

Keywords: Developing countries, SME development, donor agencies

JEL Classification: F30, F35

Suggested Citation

Leo, Benjamin, New SME Financial Access Initiatives: Private Foundations’ Path to Donor Partnerships (May 3, 2011). Center for Global Development Working Paper No. 254. Available at SSRN: or

Benjamin Leo (Contact Author)

Center for Global Development ( email )

2055 L St. NW
5th floor
Washington, DC 20036
United States

Georgetown University

Washington, DC 20057
United States

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