The Innovation Fund is a component of the AECF's Renewable Energy and Adaptation to Climate Technologies Sub-Saharan Africa Programme (REACT SSA) a US$61 million project funded by the Swedish International Development Authority (SIDA).
The programme seeks to reduce poverty through a transformational increase in the use of renewable energy by off-grid households in sub-Saharan Africa, with a particular focus on innovations originating out of Western and Southern Africa.
Through the Innovation Fund, AECF aims to support businesses and entrepreneurs to validate market fit and potential of innovations in technological products, software, business models and distribution models that contribute to increasing access to clean cooking solutions and productive use energy for people living in rural areas and particularly for the poor.
To commercialise innovative products or business models that are sufficiently developed to address the affordability and accessibility of clean cooking and productive use of energy technologies, across all SSA.
Provide an integrated set of business development services to accelerate business growth while improving the rigour and accessibility of the innovation.
The fund will support the testing of new innovations or extreme iterations to existing innovations to validate market fit and potential including
Scalable supply chain models for providing clean cooking solutions (especially in rural areas). Acknowledging that supply chains for cleaner fuels lack the necessary scale to reach many rural communities, the fund seeks to support supply chain innovations that can for example address demand uncertainty by matching demand and supply.
Alternative clean cooking technologies (stoves and fuels) including mini-grid and solar PV powered electric cooking
Business models and technological innovations for Productive Use of Energy (PUE) appliances such as milling, threshing, grating, specific value chains (poultry, dairy, and coffee) and commercial scale refrigeration.
Solutions that narrow the energy access affordability gap for clean cooking and productive use for example sustainable consumer financing models that could bring Tier 3 appliances and above within reach of a larger share of the population.
Innovations that can be seamlessly incorporated into prevailing or growing business and distribution models (such as PayGo and 'tool and fuel' business models) are encouraged.
Only private companies with a direct interest in commercialising the innovation being tested can be eligible lead applicants, however applicants are free to partner with non-private sector players for the implementation of their projects. The innovation fund seeks to support targeted, output-based activities that can be completed within 24 months.
Potential of the innovation to provide access to modern energy services to hundreds of thousands of people in the long run, or significantly improve the operational efficiency of the target businesses.
In depth knowledge of the problem(s) being addressed by the innovation and what approaches are likely to work in the given context.
A good understanding of their target customer.
Potential to create socio-economic and environmental benefits including but not limited to addressing gender inequality and social inclusion issues.
Commitment to drive the innovation i.e., through team structures with clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and time commitments.
An openness and flexibility to review and revise their strategy as required.
Applications will be accepted from 26th October 2021 to 28th November 2021 (at 11:59pm WAT) on a rolling basis. For any clarification about the application process, please email Innovationfund@aecfafrica.org