• Our story

    Helping businesses grow and access capital

Since our launch in 2008 at the World Economic Forum, AECF has built the resilience of rural and marginalised communities by catalysing innovative private sector business models with patient capital and growth support services across Sub-Saharan Africa.

We have raised US$ 392 million to date, providing catalytic funding to enterprises in 26 countries in sub-Saharan Africa by investing in businesses that struggle to meet traditional risk-return standards for commercial investors.

In 2021, we launched a new strategy with the objective to build resilience and sustainable incomes for rural and marginalised communities in Africa.

Our story

  • The Commission for Africa recommends the inception of an African based, African focused challenge fund, to be funded by developed countries to unlock the power of the private sector across Sub-Saharan Africa.

  • The African Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) is formally launched at the World Economic Forum in Cape Town and receives an initial funding of US$ 35 million from the governments of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.

  • AECF grows rapidly raising US$ 256 million and investing in 257 businesses across 24 countries in Sub Saharan Africa. Through these investments, AECF is able to positively impact the livelihoods of 13 million Africans.

  • AECF’s success demonstrates a deep need for financing. This leads AECF to becoming a legally independent institution, owned by AGRA. We start to chart our own path operating in 10 Countries with an objective to reach US$ 1 billion development impact.

  • We expand our fund size, growing to US$ 356 million. We are the donor recipient for a number of donor organisations demonstrating value for money and impact.

  • We record our second highest impact, investing in 271 businesses (from 32 competitions) and benefiting 27.7 million lives. We save 1.2 million tonnes of C02 emissions through strategic renewable energy investments.

  • We proactively mitigate against the impact of COVID across Africa, through the deployment of relief funding and additional support. Even though 2020 was a very difficult year, we ran the most competitions and onboarded the most companies in the history of the AECF – a total of 71.

  • We recorded our highest impact, investing in 343 businesses and benefiting 28 million lives.

  • We position ourselves to build a prosperous and resilient Africa. We develop new programmes targeting fragile communities, women and youth.

  • We successfully implement our 2021 to 2024 strategic plan impacting 10 million rural and marginalized people, catalysing 500 businesses and surfacing 5 innovative business consortiums