• Ashley Wenger

Meet the Ecosystem Team

Updated: Sep 28

Meet the SCCF Ecosystem Team, or really we should say, meet Anika Horn! Anika is one woman with two hats, she is our Director of Ecosystem Building and Marketing. The Ecosystem Team is responsible for building relationships among entrepreneurial supporters, and service and resource providers to enhance the flow of local talent, information, and resources so that entrepreneurs can find what they need when they need it. Our ecosystem-building approach is a mix of keeping an ear to the ground, convening entrepreneurs and support partners, and acting as an amplifier for all things entrepreneurial happening in the Valley. We asked Anika a few questions to get to know more about this one-woman team!


What is your role at SCCF?

As Director of Ecosystem Building, I’m working to build a coalition of all the entrepreneurial support organizations that offer training, advice, community, and capital to the entrepreneurial talent in the Valley. My job is to find out what entrepreneurs from Winchester to Buena Vista need, and find out who in the ecosystem can help them move forward. Long-term, I hope to convene a strong network of all the entrepreneurial champions, supporters, and cheerleaders who collaborate frequently to ensure that every entrepreneur in the Valley has access to the information, talent, and resources they need to build thriving sustainable businesses. I believe that a rising tide lifts all boats.




What was your journey to SCCF?

I was born and raised in East Germany and spent the first decade of my professional career honing my skills in startup incubation and acceleration in Australia, France, Canada, and Germany. I used to solely focus on social entrepreneurs and certified B-Corps because I strongly believe in the power of business as a force for social change.

Over the last few years, I realized that business - even if they weren’t “social” by name - could play a central role in transforming communities so I broadened my scope. Around the same time, I realized that while supporting one entrepreneur at the time was worthwhile and rewarding, what really held them back were systemic barriers and challenges. So I moved from one-on-one advisory and group programs to what we now call an ecosystem approach: How do we intentionally convene an ecosystem of support around entrepreneurs to ensure they have access to what they need when they need it?


What’s your favorite part about working at SCCF?

We have an incredible team of entrepreneurship enthusiasts who show up with so much dedication and new ideas on how we can better support the makers, doers, dreamers, and tinkerers in the Valley - it’s a joy to get to work with them every day.


What’s your least favorite piece of industry jargon?

I cringe every time I hear an entrepreneur say they’re going to “disrupt the industry”. Don’t get me wrong, many industries are ripe for disruption - education, and healthcare in particular - but “disrupting an industry” is a tall order for one person alone and I’m tired of this hero-myth: Entrepreneurs who single-handedly take on an industry to change it forever. What I’ve learned throughout my career is that it takes a village to build a successful business and in many cases, slow and steady beat hockey-stick growth that Silicon Valley has hyped for years.


What’s your favorite thing about the Shenandoah Valley?

I just moved to the Valley in July 2022 and fell in love with Main Street. Whether you’re in Lexington, Staunton, Front Royal, or Woodstock - main streets in the Valley are filled with great restaurants, outstanding coffee shops, art, and local independent businesses. To me, that’s what small towns are all about: Great small businesses.



Tell us a random fun fact about you.

I run through mud for fun. I enjoy obstacle course racing: climbing walls, swimming under barbed wire, burpees in the mud - you name it.



What makes you an entrepreneur? OR, if you were an entrepreneur, what kind of business would you run?

I enjoy telling the stories of changemakers on the front lines of their community. I launched Social Venturers as a think tank and storytelling platform about ecosystem builders and their journeys. I currently host a podcast called Ecosystems for Change through which my guests and I co-author the playbook on effective ecosystem building.


If you’re interested in learning more about Ecosystem Building, and how SCCF is working to build relationships across the Shenandoah Valley, check out how to Navigate Your Ecosystem on our website! If you’re a support organization that’s interested in how to be more involved in the ecosystem, reach out to Anika. Hear about why our Ecosystem Team loves working with entrepreneurs on Instagram.