Evaluation: The Center for Entrepreneurship and Executive Development (CEED) Program
In 2007, the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Executive Development (CEED) was founded by the Small Enterprise Assistance Fund (SEAF) to address observations that many entrepreneurs lack the knowledge, tools and connection needed to support business growth.
CEED’s program model has evolved to a 4-in-1 model incorporating lessons on how best entrepreneurs learn and defines CEED’s value proposition into four services: i) Peers groups ii) Programs (learning/training content) iii) Individual services (mentoring), and iv) Club (networking component).
Argidius partnered with CEED firstly in Moldova in 2012, then in 2017 supported the expansion of CEED to East Africa and the development of the CEED global platform. As at the end of 2019, CEED had 239 paying members and 294 non-paying member entrepreneurs. Paying members tend to be dynamic SMEs with baseline revenues greater than $100k, and non-paying members tend to be smaller enterprises. In 2018 an independent evaluation was commissioned to assess the results of CEED’s support to entrepreneurs between 2017 and 2019 with emphasis on 7 of the 11 CEED centers. The evaluation team conducted field visits to Macedonia, Kosovo, and Tanzania, and conducted virtual data collection with CEED global staff and staff and entrepreneurs in Slovenia, Tunisia and Morocco.
- CEED have contributed to supported SMEs developing strong leadership, professional management practices, and technical skills, through a combination of CEED programming, experienced CEED staff with subject and local context expertise, and the community CEED exposes its entrepreneurs to:
- CEED programming helps entrepreneurs put structures and processes in place that support autonomous operations and independence from the founder.
- Entrepreneurs valued access to a trusted, like-minded community, from which they were able to develop business collaborations, overcome similar challenges to those experienced by peers, and know they are not alone in addressing challenges faced. The business life cycle diagnosis approach allowed them to liaise and work with entrepreneurs at similar levels of growth and that are working through similar challenges.
- CEED centre staff have both extensive experience and knowledge of the existing entrepreneurial ecosystem in their host countries, enabling staff to help entrepreneurs address challenges and make the necessary connections to grow their businesses.
- There is evidence of CEED contributing to improved performance and business impact:
- Entrepreneurs referred to support to introduce new products to the market, access new selling channels, or export goods which all contribute towards revenue growth, although a proportion of 61% of entrepreneurs observing increased revenues in 2019 suggests room for further impact.
- While only 33% of CEED members applied for finance in 2019 (predominantly debt), 85% secured finance, indicating that CEED centers imparted the necessary knowledge needed to understand when to apply, and how to position the business to take advantage of existing financing avenues.
- The contribution picture is more complex with job creation, but 44% entrepreneurs increased employee headcount in 2019, and 44% remained steady.
- Many entrepreneurs described how they have been able to give back to their communities both within and beyond the CEED network
- Areas identified with room for improvement identified include:
- The matching and structuring of the mentoring component.
- Market positioning and setting entrepreneurs’ expectations.
- Creating a value proposition that shows the value proposition of peer learning, retains old members, and attracts new ones.