AGRF Summit: AECF CEO calls for support to local agribusiness entrepreneurs
The 10th Annual Summit of the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF), held virtually between 8-11th September 2020, brought together thousands of delegates from governments, the civil society, the private sector, research community and development partners.
This year’s event came at an unprecedented time when major cities in Africa, especially those that mainly rely on imported food, face a looming hunger crisis due to lockdowns in several countries to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Several African countries are also faced with a myriad of challenges including desert locusts, which have destroyed farm crops, climate change, malnutrition and poverty.
The 2020 AGRF Summit’s theme, “Feed the Cities, Grow the Continent: Leveraging Urban Food Markets to Achieve Sustainable Food Systems in Africa,” inspired a call for the adoption of concrete action and commitments from governments, the private sector, farmers and processors, and other stakeholders in the agriculture and food systems sector.
AECF CEO Victoria Sabula participated in the launch of the Summit and Agri-business deal room on 8th September 2020 along with various government leaders and agri-business stakeholders.
In her statement, Victoria emphasised the need for more support for agribusiness companies in sub-Saharan Africa by investors, governments and private sector players to realise the continent’s full potential in agriculture.
“Investors are looking for growth, acceleration and returns on investments and so we need to help entrepreneurs get investor ready,” said Victoria.
AECF investees that took part in the virtual summit included, AKM Glitters, eProd Solutions Ltd, Sibesonke and Equator Kenya Ltd.
On Friday, 11th September 2020, Victoria participated in a panel, “Expanding the Universe of investment-ready Agribusinesses (Agri-Business and Deal Room)”, which discussed the various ways in whicha robust universe of investable Agribusinesses can be developed.
In her remarks, Victoria reiterated AECF’s commitment to establishing an investor-ready fund because organisations must bridge the gap between investors’ and entrepreneurs’ needs.
She noted that investors still struggle to connect with investable enterprises in sub-Saharan Africa for three main reasons: the gap between the commercial capital available and funds; SMEs’ ill-preparedness to access capital and high transactions costs.
“I often hear entrepreneurs say, ‘I was investor ready from day 1’ – but what they mean is that they were ready to accept money. Often, they do not have the plans, processes, and people in place to grow and expand – so they might be ready to accept financing to continue ‘business as usual’ but that is not what an investor is looking for. An investor is looking for growth, scale, acceleration and high impact results. In short, they are looking to see the capacity to deliver a return,” she said.
AECF’s strategy is focused on agribusiness/agriculture and renewable energy sectors with increased support to climate technologies, deepened focus on gender, youth, and employment, aimed at attaining the institution’s vision of ‘A Prosperous and Enterprising Rural Africa’.
Since 2008, AECF has invested in 268 businesses across sub-Sahara Africa focusing on Agribusiness, Renewable Energy and Climate Technologies. As of 2018, we have impacted more than 17 million lives, created over 12,000 jobs and leveraged over US$ 750 million in matching funds from the private sector.
Nicholas Sewe, Communications Assistant, AECF.