The first of AECF’s investment programmes running from 2011, the General Window invested nearly $30m in a wide range of companies across Africa.
In fulfilling AECF’s original intervention thesis of providing large amounts of capital to large existing businesses to move them towards smallholder farmers and a pro-poor agenda, the programme targeted major agribusinesses such as Yara International and Guinness to establish outgrower systems for inputs of maize and sorghum. It also worked with medium sized seed companies in Kenya and Zimbabwe to develop improved maize seeds for specific climatic conditions and worked in establishing financial services for farmers in Nigeria, Mali, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe.
The programme generated a total development impact of almost $200m over the six years that impact was reported. Of the 29 investments made, 14 are still in operation in 2021.
Kenya Biologics and Real IPM are two highly innovative companies producing biological control products that enable farmers to reduce the amount of pesticide they use on their crops. Products developed include predatory mites and viruses to control thrips and other insect pests. Markets expanded well beyond smallholders to service the flower sector in Kenya where export markets began to demand lower use of pesticides in finished products.
Together the companies were provided with $1m and built new manufacturing facilities, acting as the vanguard in the development of a whole new agribusiness sector. In 2019 the operations were bought out by the international sustainable crop management company Biobest, thus ensuring long term sustainability of AECF’s investment.