• 1st phase complete


What we do/Failures

Once again we have followed the example of Unreasonable Institute (www.unreasonableinstitute) by including this page.  We like Unreasonable's stance and their value of "militant transparency".  OPEN has learnt invaluable lessons by reflecting on our mistakes.

OPEN set out to find, support and grow the best ethical rural entrepreneurs in Bangladesh.  OPEN achieved elements of this, but here’s where the programme fell short:

  • We failed to effectively match our enterprises to the finance they need to grow:  OPEN was launched with a focus on finding great rural entrepreneurs, but insufficient emphasis was placed on understanding investor needs and demands.  150 rural entrepreneurs were found by our scouting partners, which were based all around the country.  35 entrepreneurs were visited by the OPEN team and 20 entrepreneurs were chosen to attend training camp. 19 of these 20 turned up to training camp (1 was ill).  Success on one hand, however we failed to assess the rural entrepreneurs effectively in the light of bank and impact investor criteria.  This means that 10 months on, none of the 19 entrepreneurs are matched to finance.  Although we are still working with 7 of the entrepreneurs and are optimistic that they will be linked to finance, any future OPEN accelerator will start with a deep understanding of impact investor needs and demands.  This will be built into the selection criteria.  We will only accept entrepreneurs onto the programme if we are confident that we can match them to an investor at the end of the programme.
  • We failed to support our entrepreneurs effectively through our mentoring progamme:  We were privileged to work with a committed and talented group of mentors during the pilot of OPEN Accelerator.  However we found that the entrepreneurs and their small businesses needed more intensive support than the mentors were able to offer during their brief engagements.  We also discovered that it is difficult to use mentors who live outside Bangladesh.  They face challenges with the culture and language, and are less able to provide on-going support once back in their home country.
  • We failed to identify or implement a sustainable revenue model for the programme:  When we think back to summer 2013 it seemed straight forward to fund OPEN Accelerator.  We designed it as a low cost programme, so the budget of €80,000 was not huge and Incluvest had already committed a decent chunk of funding.  There was a great deal of local interest in OPEN and we acted on the belief that this interest could be converted into sponsorship funding, as long as the programme achieved its objectives and became ‘talked about’.  2 years on, we appreciate just how hard it is to fund an investment-readiness programme.  Talking to impact investors and other established accelerator programmes there is a consensus that this type of initiative tends to rely on significant grant funding, at least in the early years.  We have not been able to secure this type of funding in the time available.

Founder Sponsor

Program Sponsor

Delivery Partners

Scouting Partners

On-line Media Partner

Knowledge Partner