600 million jobs will be needed by 2030 to absorb the growing global workforce. This makes entrepreneurship development a high priority, especially in emerging markets where 7 out of 10 jobs are generated by SMEs. However, only a very small minority of early-stage founders worldwide have access to quality support programs with structured business training and personalized one-to-one mentoring, due to the limited capacity of these programs, their cost, and their presence only in big cities.
IDEA Programs is a joint initiative by UNIDO and Bridge for Billions that started out as a pilot back in 2019 in Guinea Conakry with 5 entrepreneurs, 5 mentors and the support of one local incubator. Today, after seeing the impact on the entrepreneurs’ success and the viability of the initiative, we decided to deploy globally to tackle the current crisis of opportunities.
IDEA Programs will accelerate economic development in emerging economies by supporting thousands of entrepreneurs simultaneously from less represented groups through a series of online incubation programs. This replicable program offers 6-month of intensive online incubation, provides entrepreneurs with a structured path and personal coaching to successfully develop and grow resilient businesses in the value chains that are most important to their local economies.
Far from theory, the pedagogy of the IDEA program pushes founders to formulate their ideas and answer the tough questions regarding who are their clients, what do they really want, what is their market size, how to decide on a price point, how to acquire new customers, have 3-year financial projections and a growth plan, amongst many other fundamental concepts of building a resilient business. It also invites founders to “get out there”, talk to people on the field, research, and validate their assumptions with real customers.
In each country where IDEA Programs is deployed, UNIDO and Bridge for Billions select local incubators to work hand in hand with existing field actors. They are trained to become IDEA Centers, i.e. local relays implementing the program on the ground jointly with us.
In every country, UNIDO and Bridge for Billions defined the most crucial value chains for each local economy and ran a call for entrepreneurs working on innovative solutions that could solve the most pressing problems.
Every program is monitored and guided by an experienced Program Manager from Bridge for Billions and local Program Administrators in most countries. All entrepreneurs and mentors accepted into the program are invited for welcome calls where they are boarded into the IDEA Program and platform.
IDEA Programs offers entrepreneurs the chance to meet local or international mentors that are willing and interested in supporting their entrepreneurship journey. They will meet with their selected mentor weekly and receive constant feedback in their business plan through the IDEA Program platform.
IDEA Program has an online platform providing step by step activities that allow entrepreneurs to create their business plans and validate their model. Founders with limited access to internet connection and devices can go to their closest IDEA Center to advance on the program and meet their peers.
Founders end the program with a viable business plan, the confidence to conquer the market and opportunities to pitch to their local ecosystem and potentially secure funding.
By analyzing the outcomes of each program and understanding the realities of entrepreneurs in every country, we learn more about each ecosystem and as a consequence are able to provide better support and resources to founders guaranteeing better success rates for these new businesses.
UNIDO projects that include the IDEA Programs model
The IDEA Programs focuses on supporting entrepreneurs in priority value chains for the social and economic development of each country it is deployed in. We are already supporting entrepreneurs working in the fields of:
The goal of this project is to improve entrepreneurs’ access to training and mentoring in order to decrease the failure rates of new businesses, empower a generation of innovators that will create jobs that contribute to the development of the local economy, diversify the current entrepreneurial ecosystem and to increase efficiency and build capacities among regional ecosystem players, or IDEA Centers.
“This training I received as Incubation Manager and the program we operated in Guinea was an amazing experience.
At first we had fears about doing an incubation program mostly online but actually the participants found it very well structured and the tools really changed their mindset.
Having access to a diverse pool of mentors has also been invaluable. I learned a lot and I’d like to do another such program myself, and see it replicated in other countries.”
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) partnered with Bridge for Billions to create IDEA, an online program to connect young entrepreneurs with mentors from all over the world to accelerate the growth of new entrepreneurship communities and foster an entrepreneurial culture.