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Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF)

The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) is a $ 217 million multi-donor private sector fund, hosted by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). The aim is to encourage private sector companies to compete for investment support for their new and innovative business ideas that will lead to growth in the rural economies of Africa, generate employment and create new opportunities for systemic change in the markets that serve them.

Main features

  • AECF is a competition, open only to for-profit private companies starting new ventures
  • AECF is implemented via funding windows targeted at specific economic sectors AND at specific regions/countries
  • Each window will offer multiple funding rounds for new applications
  • Each funding round is divided in two stages. After submitting the application form, a group of selected projects will be invited to submit a detailed business plan.

Funding windows
The AECF REACT window for Southern Africa will open soon. The REACT (Renewable Energy and Adaptation to Climate Technologies)
window is a special fund of the AECF that is open to business ideas based on low cost clean energy and solutions that help rural people adapt to climate change.

REACT’s Goal: Contribute to reducing rural poverty through energy access and climate resilience in Sub-Saharan Africa.

REACT’s Purpose: Catalyse private sector investment and innovation in low cost, clean energy and climate change technologies.

REACT’s Driving Forces: Business ideas must show an environmental benefit and demonstrate a positive impact on the rural poor through increased incomes, employment and productivity or reduced costs.

REACT considers three categories of business ideas:

  • Increased access to low cost, clean energy for rural businesses and households. This includes cost effective renewable power, commercially viable renewable fuels and other clean energy alternatives;
  • Products and services that help rural people and smallholder farmers adapt to climate change;
  • Financial services that increase access to finance for low cost, clean energy and climate resilient technologies or catalyse financial solutions.

Eligible applicants
The competition is open to companies from anywhere in the world, provided the business idea is implemented in Africa. The applicant(s) must be able to fund at least 50% of the project budget themselves.

The AECF provides grants and interest free loans to businesses who wish to implement innovative, commercially viable, high impact projects in Africa.
The maximum amount the AECF can award to a single business idea in the form of grant or interest free loan is US$ 1.5 million and the minimum amount is US$ 250,000. The average amount is around $ 750,000.

Eligible projects

  • Project should be in line with requirements of the funding window, but generally should support businesses working in the field of agriculture, agri-business and rural financial services
  • Project should have a positive impact on a large number of smallholder farmers / poor people living in rural areas
  • Projects should deliver increased employment and income
  • Applications will need to demonstrate that the project is commercially viable
  • Applications should provide evidence that the applicant is technically and financially capable to deliver.

Please contact us for a free assessment to find out whether your business plan may qualify for AECF grant-funding.