Agora Partnerships


History of Agora

Agora Partnerships was founded in 2005 by students at Columbia Business School and entrepreneurs in Nicaragua. The organization has played a founding role in the impact investing and entrepreneurship industry. Highlights include helping to co-found ANDE, launching the first Latin American ANDE conference, prototyping the first GIIRS methodology, and launching the first early stage impact investing fund in Latin America. Since our founding, we have always focused on answering the question, “what do entrepreneurs need in order to unleash their potential to contribute to society,” and the corollary question, “what is the most efficient program design to deliver this assistance in a way that can scale.”

Agora 1.0

From 2005 to 2010, we attempted to answer these questions by matching MBA consultants with early-stage companies in Central America and launching an experimental, early-stage venture capital fund. We realized that access to quality knowledge and networks was critical, but also came to realize that many companies were simply starved for capital. To address this need, we launched the Agora Venture Fund (AVF), a for-profit impact investing fund designed and managed by Agora Partnerships, in order to apply investment principles to companies “too big for microfinance, and too small for traditional banks” in Nicaragua. The AVF closed its first and only round of $525,000 from 12 investors in 2007. By 2011, the fund had made over $600,000 in investments, including re-investments into 12 companies. The seven year fund will wind up in 2015.

Agora 2.0

Based on lessons learned from our fund experience and new developments in the industry, we concluded that lack of capital was no longer the greatest barrier to entrepreneurial growth. The barrier was getting the capital to the right entrepreneurs. To address this challenge we designed an accelerator program focused specifically on delivering the right mix of knowledge, networks, and capital to entrepreneurs. From gaining market access to becoming investment ready, our focus was to world-class consulting to small business entrepreneurs creating social change, and to better connect them to each other and to the emerging capital “impact” market. In 2011, Agora launched its first Accelerator class and hosted its first Impact Investing in Action conference. That same year Agora partnered with Thriive Capital to create an accelerator program for small businesses in Nicaragua.

Agora 3.0

Looking towards the future, we are excited to grow our partner and investor network, to better integrate funders and investors earlier and more holistically into our model, and to focus more on the system-wide impact of our model. We will always be an organization that puts the entrepreneur front and center, and we will continue to do so while also investing in building strong, long term corporate and foundation partnerships, launching new offerings for investors like delegations and Deal Rooms, and focusing more on working with entrepreneurial tracks to create more synergy and efficiency within in our model. Today, we are focused on building the entrepreneurship ecosystem in the Americas and growing the Agora Accelerator and affiliated accelerator programs.

Our Name

Agora is a Greek word meaning “marketplace” or “public square”. In ancient Athens, citizens gathered in the agora to discuss ideas and exchange goods and services. We seek to create a modern day agora, where key stakeholders – entrepreneurs, investors, young professionals, philanthropists, corporations, universities, and critical institutions like governments and development finance institutions can come together to accelerate social entrepreneurship.

Washington DC

Impact Hub DC
419 7th St NW,
3rd Floor
Washington, DC 20004
Tel: 202-580-8776

Managua

Residencial Altamira D'Este,
del Banpro 1 cuadra abajo, No. 82
Managua, Nicaragua
Tel: 505-2270-2700
US VoIP: 202-558-6962

Mexico City

Av. Insurgentes Sur 318
Roma Norte,
06700 Cd de México, CDMX
Mexico

Connect

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