By guest authors Irina Patterson and Candice Arnold
This is the forty-ninth interview in our series on financing for entrepreneurs. I am talking to David Monkman, president and CEO of the National Business Incubation Association. Athens, Ohio–based NBIA is a trade association that services business incubation programs around the world. Founded in 1985, this non-profit organization today has about 2,000 individual members, representing about 1,000 organizations in 65 countries worldwide.
Irina: Hi, David. Where are you from?
I was born in Illinois, raised in the States. I lived in Northern California for about seven years. I lived in New York for a couple of years. I lived in London for a year, the Netherlands for a couple of years, South Africa for five years, Pakistan for three, and the rest in the States.
Irina: Where did you go to school?
David: My undergraduate degree is from the University of Arizona, in Tucson, Arizona. My graduate degree is from the London School of Economics, in London.
Irina: What is your professional background?
David: My background is in investment management. I did that for about six years in Northern California before I moved overseas to study trends – or patterns – in long-term economic growth and development at the London School of Economics.
That move to Europe also marked the beginning of my entrepreneurial activities. It was there that I identified my first team, and I helped provide financial inter-mediation support for entrepreneurs in their efforts to raise funding for their companies. All of this was based on my investment experience in Northern California.
After doing that initiative for a few years, I had the opportunity to take a position at an investment bank. I worked in New York City for a year, until I could take an advisory position on a project in Zimbabwe for USAID (United States Agency for International Development).
It was really [while] working with the Agency for International Development that I took residence in South Africa, and I registered a company there that would continue to explore financial inter-mediation activities.
I also was engaged by bilateral donor organizations, like the UK Department for International Development, a Dutch Group called Hivos, another humanitarian support initiative and economic development organization, and I also worked with the Banking Association of South Africa a few times to develop recommendations on improved ways to support small and medium enterprises (SME) and local economic development.
I had an opportunity to set up an organization in Pakistan. I set up an organization there, like the SBA (Small Business Administration) here in the States, for the Ministry of Finance and the Asian Development Bank.
That organization grew to have offices around the country, and to support SMEs in their purchases of technical assistance from the local consulting marketplace. That was an interesting initiative where I began to spend even more time in business incubation than I did in South Africa, which directly related to my position here at NBIA.
I also did some consulting work in Bangladesh. I’ve done consulting work in other parts of the world, but I think those are the projects that really underscored and confirmed my interest in economic development and entrepreneur support systems.
Irina: How did you become the president and CEO of NBIA?
David: There was a national search conducted when Dinah Adkins announced her retirement. [She was chief staff executive of the National Business Incubation Association from November 1988.]
Dinah Adkins is the president emeritus of NBIA now, honoring her 22 years of work with NBIA. She’s really been instrumental in making NBIA what it is today. We’re all profoundly grateful for her contribution.
After this national search, where they considered people from all over the world, they found me. I’ve been here since August 2008 and I’m quite delighted about the opportunity to work in a similar area, here in the States, that I previously explored abroad. It’s highly relevant to my own experience and my own preferences.