When 19 representatives of organizations serving small and growing business (SGB) entrepreneurs in two dozen countries began their five-day leadership development program at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) in North Carolina last fall, they weren’t sure what to expect, but they all anticipated a rich learning experience.

What they didn’t anticipate was the profound impact this training would have not only on themselves personally and professionally, but also on the people back home who would soon benefit from the fruits of this powerful leadership training.

Leadership development participants in El Salvador work out a solution to a challenge.

Effectiveness of Entrepreneurs Linked to Leadership Quality

Fueled by a grant from the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) Capacity Development Fund (CDF), CCL’s Leadership Beyond Boundaries (LBB) team worked with members of ANDE and other organizations involved in social change, entrepreneurship and education.

Leveraging CCL’s portfolio of training expertise to customize the Training of Trainers (TOT) program, this initiative focused on experiential leadership development; facilitation skills; and practicing delivery of leadership development. Trainees graduated with a multi-faceted training toolkit and an ability to provide leadership development to front-line entrepreneurs. In just a year, the TOT alumni have delivered programs in North America, Africa, India, Latin America and Asia to more than 600 individuals — and the numbers continue growing.

Nigerian Entrepreneurs Cultivate Strengths

Program participant Nneka Okekearu from the Center for Enterprise Development (CED) Services at Pan African University (PAU) in Lagos, Nigeria, sought this training to benefit her students. She’s also involved in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Initiative to empower Nigerian women entrepreneurs. “I was eager to gain new leadership skills and bring them back to my community,” she explains. “At the training, I was struck by the diversity of my colleagues and realized that a skilled leader could cultivate people’s similarities and tap the strength created by their diversity.”

The Leadership Essentials program is now included in PAU’s CED curriculum. By the end of 2011, nearly 500 Nigerian entrepreneurs will have taken a component of the program. “This training is powerful, not only for entrepreneurs — I’ve shared it with my church, with my greater community and with youth. Everyone who receives the training passes it along to many others. The training continues to spread and everyone benefits,” she says.

Latin American University Student Leaders Blossom

Robert Parkinson from the ANDE Brazilian Hub facilitated a workshop for 50 university students. “These are students who were selected as social-enterprise ambassadors at their respective universities,” he says. “In this role they are required to create and communicate a vision, mobilize and manage resources and motivate their peers to action. I applied CCL methodologies to my training and am inspired to think of the impact that these students can have as leaders, both within and beyond their university environments.”

Parkinson was also impressed by the diversity of participants at the CCL training (ages, nationalities, experiences), and was surprised that they were able to enrich each other’s learning so much despite these differences. “The training is a great mix of theory, self-reflection and peer-to-peer mentoring. It helped me to better understand myself as a leader and to plan how I could improve, all within a very friendly, supportive and inspiring environment.”

North American Training Impacts Global Organizations

Christine Elbs Singer, CEO of E+Co, a company that invests in clean energy in developing countries, invited manager Jennye Greene to attend this training. “I was honored to be invited and am incredibly impressed with the depth of research, the thoughtfulness of presentation and the expert pedagogical techniques presented at the training,” says Greene.

Returning to Washington, DC, Greene and two other program participants delivered the ANDE Leadership Essentials program to 24 participants from a dozen organizations representing 10 countries. Key takeaways included positive organizational impact, personal development and an appreciation for the power of collective insight and mentoring. “The training has positively influenced the way I think about entrepreneurial education and leadership,” she says. Members of USAID and other DC-based global organizations have since received this leadership training.

Janet Carlson, CCL’s Innovation Operations manager, who organized the TOT training reports that 80 percent of participants have adhered to the timetables they proposed for delivering workshops within their organizations. “I am touched by the profound connections participants have made and how the workshops have created new business opportunities globally. We couldn’t have planned, or imagined, how vast the networks that have been created as a result of this initiative, would be,” she explains. “The positive impact of the ANDE-CDF grant is so far-reaching and it grows daily.”

“And the story’s not finished,” Carlson adds. “Just imagine what the world would be like if more entrepreneurs had access to this kind of leadership development.”

Key Outcomes

Leadership Beyond Boundaries Training produced several key outcomes:

  • Trainer capacity: Content, tools and facilitation techniques
  • Entrepreneurial training: New trainers delivered programs around the world. Nearly all of the participants have delivered leadership content, models and assessments in North America, Africa, India and Latin American. TOT alumni have delivered leadership content to nearly 600 participants globally, and these participants cascade the content to others.
  • Network connections: CCL is extending its collaboration with ANDE organizations to explore further expansion of efforts supported by the grant.

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