I submitted an application(s) in an earlier round(s) but did not win. Can I re-submit my proposal in future rounds?
Yes, as many times as you wish, but you need to make sure that you are eligible for the special criteria of any given funding window.
I do not understand the Financial section of the application form. How does it work?
To be eligible for AECF funding you must enter both the amount of grant requested and the amount of repayable grant requested, even if one of them is zero;
a) Grant Request (enter 0 if no grant is needed)
b) Repayable Grant Request (enter 0 if no repayable grant is needed)
The Total amount (a + b) cannot be less than US$ 250,000 or more than US$ 1,500,000. The total is an automatically calculated field on the online form. You should not try to update this field.
The minimum amount the AECF requires your company to invest is usually 50% (at least, the more the better) of the total cost of implementing the project. However you must check the particular conditions for the particular window you are applying to. For the Fragile States Window (not currently running) the amount required was lowered to 50%; also for Zimbabwe Window rounds. It is up to you to check this.
Example: Total project cost: US$ 700,000.
Grant requested: US$ 100,000
Repayable Grant requested is US$ 250,000
Total (Grant + Repayable Grant) is US$ 350,000
The minimum investment the AECF requires you to make, for most windows, is therefore US$ 350,000.
Do these funding limits apply to all windows?
No. some windows have special limits.
The South Sudan and Tanzania Agribusiness Windows offers a maximum support of US $1.0 million only and a minimum of US $ 100,000.
What counts as my company’s contribution?
Mainly, new money. Your share of the total funding may come as debt (borrowing) or equity (cash injection), by yourself or by another partner(s). In principle AECF will not recognize the contribution of existing fixed assets such as land and buildings or of sunk costs, however important these may be to the success of the project.
On the Proposal Process page, it says I need to invest funds in cash or 'kind'. What does this mean?
This means that your company can contribute resources to the project both in terms of cash and in terms of other inputs such as staff and equipment etc. If you intend to contribute to the project using “in-kind” resources please specify on the application form what these will be. Note that overhead costs such as senior staff salaries which would have to be paid anyway may be difficult to justify, unless a substantial part of their time is to be diverted to the project. However, our experience has shown that it is difficult to lay down absolutely hard and fast rules on this question. If in doubt, ask.
What is the maximum amount I can ask the AECF to contribute? What is the minimum? As above, the amount applied for cannot be less than US$ 250,000 (minimum) or more than US$ 1,500,000 (maximum).
What is a repayable grant?
It is effectively a zero interest rate loan repayable over the life of the project
What is the AECF’s recommended Ratio between Grants and Repayable Grants?
The AECF is looking for leverage but does not stipulate any particular ratio. In general, however, the less risky a project, the more it should be able to bear the burden of repayment – that is, to have a higher repayable element. Conversely, very innovative, higher risk projects might prudently reduce their leverage. All other things being equal, projects with a higher proportion of repayable grants will be assessed more positively, provided they score well on the selection criteria outlined on the “Proposal Process”. This consideration should be seen more as a tie-breaker than a crucial criterion. It is for you to decide how much risk you can take.
Where does my company have to be based and/or registered for me to apply?
It does not matter where your company is based or registered. All that matters is that the beneficiaries of the project will be people living in the rural areas in Africa or in the specified country in the case of country specific windows. For example, the applicant company could be based in Europe or India, as long as its project supports the rural areas in countries in Africa.
Can I apply if I have a startup business or it is less than 2 years old?
In normal circumstances your company must be able to produce 2 years of audited accounts. We will ask to see these at the second, business plan, stage of the competition. However, the AECF is able to make exceptions to this rule where there is clear evidence that the new company has the capacity, experience and resources to implement the project.
Can I apply if I am a not for profit company or NGO?
No. The legal obligations of the AECF mean your organization must be a for-profit company, or other such entity.
Can I apply for funds for a Project in an economic sector not related to the AECF’s priorities?
No. The AECF will support only projects in the areas specified for particular windows. It is up to you to check this by studying the information given on the funding window pages of the web site. Look at the question “ which ideas is the AECF XXX Window prepared to support?” in the FAQs for Window XXX, as well as on the “About XXX” page.
Can I apply for more than one grant or loan?
Each application can only be for one project. However, you may submit separate application forms for as many different business ideas/projects and in as many funding windows as you wish.
How will I know which proposals have been accepted?
AECF will email all entrants with the results. Once projects are approved for funding, they will be published on the AECF website projects page.
How does the Challenge Fund work?
See the Challenge Fund page of this website.
How does my business apply?
See the Proposal Process page of this website.
Which ideas is the AECF prepared to support?
See the pages of individual funding windows.
Where will the AECF work?
The AECF is open to proposals for business concepts to be implemented in any of the specified country/countries for each funding window in Africa. Multi-country and regional projects are also eligible.
How are successful proposals selected?
We will judge each proposal against our selection criteria. The best proposals we receive will be forwarded to the AECF’s Investment Committee. The final selection of business ideas will then be made by the Investment Committee. This is an ongoing process with applications being invited and scrutinized every few months.
What are my chances of winning?
The AECF operates like a “social” venture capital fund – seeking and engaging with many potential projects and companies to find those with the greatest rate of return against the our objectives. We anticipate that no more than one in ten projects will be awarded funds.
Does my company have to contribute?
Successful applicants are expected to contribute a minimum of 50% of the total cost of the project, unless otherwise stipulated. Businesses that are willing/ able to contribute greater than the 50% minimum are more likely to receive AECF support as we wish to leverage our funds.
How long does the approval process take?
Funding approval for successful applications will be granted within a maximum of 240 days from the closing date for applications.