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Launching New Ventures in Nicaragua

Launching New Ventures in Nicaragua

US Ambassador, Robert Callahan (left), presents Aida Patricia Mayorga (middle) of Oscarito’s with Agora’s Entrepreneurial Leadership award for growing her company from humble beginnings to over 40 employees and becoming a role model leader in her community. Agora CEO Ben Powell is pictured on the right.

Launching New Ventures in Nicaragua was Agora’s signature program from 2006-2010. As part of the initiative, Agora Partnerships provided strategy consulting and technical assistance to hundreds of entrepreneurs through one-on-one consulting, support from US-based MBA teams, group sessions covering specific topics of interest, and “speed consulting”, where entrepreneurs had a fixed period of time to work with local experts on a specific issue they were facing. We are very grateful to the men and women of the of the United States Agency for International Development’s Nicaragua Mission for making an important investment in the vision of Agora Partnerships.

Agora exceeded operational goals for this project, including:

• 76 entrepreneurs received technical assistance to improve their management capabilities and access financing (211% of target)

• 24 firms (200% of target) obtained financing of over $2.5M, including almost $1.0M in local bank financing and over $1.5M in venture capital investment (145% of target)

• 3,485 people participated in 61 educational outreach events organized by the project (280% of target)

• 400 companies received business advice to improve their management practices, thanks in part to the introduction of two new types of technical assistance not contemplated in the original project design (over 1000% of target)

• 173 volunteer business consultants from US-based MBA programs provided marketing, finance, and strategy assistance to small business entrepreneurs in Nicaragua, including 75 students who were able to travel to Nicaragua (160% of target)

TechnoServe

TechnoServe served as USAID’s official counterpart in the Launching New Ventures in Nicaragua project. Agora is tremendously proud to have partnered with TechnoServe, one of the world’s leading organizations providing business solutions to rural poverty. Agora’s team worked closely with TechnoServe on this initiative and also supported “Idea Tu Empresa,” Nicaragua’s first business plan competition. TechnoServe’s former president serves on Agora’s Board and its current chairman is a member of Agora’s Advisory Board. He previously taught the class at Columbia Business School where Agora’s business plan was designed. We are also grateful to Technoserve’s Board and team in Washington DC for providing affordable office space to Agora during this project.