PACE Initiative

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USAID is working to bridge the pioneer gap by: investing in early stage enterprises, encouraging approaches that combine investment and philanthropy, researching and sharing lessons learned, testing ways to incubate entrepreneurs and connect them with investors, making lending to entrepreneurs less risky through guarantees.

Entrepreneurs play a vital role in driving economic growth, creating jobs and innovating to improve people's’ lives through market-based solutions. Impact investors are looking for a pipeline of businesses to invest in that generate both financial and social returns. 

Yet impact investors are often unable to connect with the early-stage entrepreneurs due to the "pioneer gap" that exists between high-risk, promising early-stage enterprises and impact investors looking for enterprises to invest in.

Partnering to Accelerate Entrepreneurship Initiative

The Partnering to Accelerate Entrepreneurship (PACE) Initiative aims to catalyze private-sector investment into early-stage enterprises and identify innovative models or approaches that help entrepreneurs bridge the pioneer gap – thus unlocking the potential of thousands of promising enterprises around the world.

Working in partnership with more than 50 incubators, accelerators, and seed-stage impact investors, USAID’s PACE initiative creates public-private partnerships dedicated to testing ways to address critical gaps and foster entrepreneurship. These partnerships are expected to leverage $320 million in combined public and private investments over their lifetime to advance the Agency’s mission of accelerating countries to self-reliance.

Accelerating Entrepreneurs: Insights from USAID's Support for Small and Growing Businesses

USAID is pleased to release the executive summary of Accelerating Entrepreneurs: Insights from USAID’s Support for Small and Growing Businesses, an analysis of our PACE program. The report aims aims to help better understand how working with intermediaries supports entrepreneurs around the world and to provide data that can inform the decisions of public funders, private investors and policymakers who are interested in working with intermediaries in entrepreneurial ecosystems. 

Learn more about PACE partnerships formed since 2014

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Key Term: ‘Lab leverage’ is a program performance indicator for the U.S. Global Development Lab that captures commitments of funding and in-kind resources from a range of external non-USAID partners investing in shared development goals when working jointly with the Lab on a partnership, program or activity. The Lab’s leverage performance indicator includes: all cost-share contributions (from both public and private sector partners); all other contributions (from the private sector, the public sector, and other U.S. government agencies); and gifts (from foreign governments, private organizations, and individuals).

Last updated: April 16, 2020

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