The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) is a US$ 256 million private sector challenge fund that provides catalytic funding to enterprises in 24 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. The fund supports innovative commercial businesses in the agribusiness, renewable energy and adaptation to climate change technology sectors with the aim of reducing rural poverty, promoting resilient rural communities and creating jobs through private sector development. We invest in businesses that are seen as “risky” and that struggle to meet traditional risk-return standards for commercial investors and which offer significant impact on poverty alleviation by creating jobs and sustainable incomes.
The AECF Ltd. was launched at the World Economic Forum as an initiative of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). Since 2008, it has been supported by donor governments namely Australia, Canada, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom, and international finance institutions such as the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor and IFAD.
In 2017, the AECF Ltd. entered a new phase as an independent entity with the objective of expanding its geographical reach, grow its funding base and increase its transformative impact on inclusive growth. To achieve this the Fund will deepen its focus on gender issues, youth and employment. The new strategy will build on the Fund’s track record of creating sustainable rural livelihoods through private sector-led initiatives that change the way markets work for the poor.
- Scale up innovative and commercially sustainable business ideas that have the potential to positively impact the incomes of rural households.
- Drive improvements in the way that market systems work, thereby facilitating market entry for rural poor households and businesses.
- Stimulate the development and use of affordable and accessible technologies for the benefit of the rural poor.
- Increase the volume of private sector financing by leveraging AECF funds to share risk and catalyse private sector investment
Areas of Investment
The AECF targets investments in the following sectors:
- Agriculture and agribusiness
- Renewable energy and adaptations to combat climate change
- Rural financial services and communications systems that support these two sectors