Great business ideas deserve serious investment


About AECF

The AECF is a US$ 244m challenge fund capitalized by multilateral and bilateral donors (the AECF donors) to stimulate private sector entrepreneurs in Africa to innovate and find profitable ways of improving access to markets and the way markets function for the poor, particularly in rural areas. The Fund awards grants and repayable grants to private sector companies to support innovative business ideas in agriculture, agribusiness, renewable energy, adaptation to climate change and access to information and financial services. Its purpose is to improve incomes of smallholder farmers and the rural poor. The AECF is supported by the governments of Australia, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom, as well as the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Funding is awarded through competitions, with applicants judged on the commercial viability, innovation, and potential development impact of their projects. Since the AECF’s inception in 2008 up to the end of 2014, a total of 202 projects spread across 23 countries in sub-Saharan Africa have been approved for funding, directly benefiting nearly 7 million rural people in 2014 alone.



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Since the launch of the AECF in June 2008, a total of 20 competitions have been held. As at December 2014, 6,113 applications have been received and 202 projects have been approved for funding (commitment US$144m [Dec 2014]). A further US$401m has been committed to these projects by the private sector. Overall the response from the private sector has been excellent with competition for AECF funds intense. For more information click here.

The overall AECF Fund has grown significantly to
$244 million(Dec 2014)
Since AECF's inception there have been:
202 Applications approved to fund
422 Applications evaluated to business plan stage
862 Applications shortlisted
6,113 applications received in total
Donor contributions per window
Overall portfolio: grants vs loans
Portfolio by region
Matching funds contribution by grantees is 2.79 (Dec 2014) times that of the donor funds approved and stands at $401 million (Dec 2014)


In keeping with its goal of accelerating pro-poor growth in Africa through increasing employment, livelihood opportunities and incomes, the AECF supports grantee projects in 23 African countries.  These projects are as a result of 20 competitions completed and more than 6,113 applications received over the 7 years of AECF existence. The projects have specific focus areas in agriculture, agribusiness, renewable energy, adaptation to climate change and access to information and financial services.