Lean data insights: Aggregate report

Despite recent progress and development in the renewable energy sector, energy access challenges persist globally, with over 625 million people lacking access to electricity and an additional 2.1 billion people lacking access to clean cooking, according to 2023 SDG7 progress report. The impacts of climate change and natural catastrophes further compound this especially in sub-Saharan Africa, described as being most vulnerable to climate change. 

Since 2017, AECF (Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund) has been deploying challenge-led investment funds, technical assistance, energy, and advisory service facilities to support inclusive businesses promoting adaptation and mitigation solutions for low-income, underserved, and rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa. Combined, the Renewable Energy and Adaptation Climate Technologies (REACT SSA) programme funded by Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and REACT Household Solar programme funded by Foreign, Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) have invested and strengthened 101 companies that delivered energy access products and services to over 560,000 households translating to over 2.8 million people, 23,599 MSMEs and supported over 3,800 direct jobs.

In 2021, AECF partnered with 60 Decibels, an independent impact measurement company, to conduct Lean Data studies with end consumers of REACT portfolio companies with the intention of gaining a deeper understanding of if and how increased access to energy and adaptation technologies affects households’ quality of life, mSMEs’ productivity, and creates new opportunities in rural economies. Such studies are also precious in giving voice to consumers, providing critical customer feedback to our investees, and helping them improve customer satisfaction and impact. To us, it offers precious insights to guide our future investments and the depth and breadth of our impacts. To date, 60 Decibels (60dB) has conducted interviews with over 7,000 randomly selected consumers drawn from 25 investees, spread across 9 countries under the REACT portfolio with technologies ranging from clean/improved cooking, solar home systems, mini and micro grids, solar-powered irrigation, e-mobility, and waste management and recycling. 

 

Pioneering ag-tech solutions for smallholder farmers in Tanzania and beyond – The m-Farming model, a case study of Sibesonke Ltd in Tanzania

Sibesonke Ltd (a spinoff from Nokia’s Emerging Market Team), develops innovative solutions for developing countries. In Tanzania, Sibesonke works through a local partner Tai Mobile Solutions (TMS) based in Dar-es-salaam with defined roles, where, the innovation product development division is led in Finland, while TMS focuses on marketing and sales, customer care and client relations.

The Agri-trading and CRM platform is an innovative business model that interfaces input supplies, marketing and distribution and extension services. It was founded on the need to facilitate agricultural information and trade through connecting smallholder farmers, who are often located in remote areas and geographically isolated, to input providers and farm output markets. Facilitating synergies between actors in an often-fragmented agricultural value chain was the core aim of the m-Farming platform.

Taking the lead – Expanding energy access in Sub-Saharan Africa

In our home, Africa, nearly 600 million people lack access to energy, while many more, almost a billion, use traditional and emitting fuels for cooking. This lack of access restricts opportunities, undermines health conditions, and reduces a household’s potential to rise out of poverty.
With Africa needing over US$70 billion in additional investment per annum until 2030, it is clear that the current levels of public sector financing and aid will not deliver SDG7: Affordable and Clean energy access for all in Africa.

At AECF, we approach poverty alleviation differently. As a pioneering African-based and focused development organization, we mobilize patient capital and an ecosystem of services to surface innovative, inclusive, small- and medium-sized enterprises to drive the energy revolution for those who need it the most. To date, we have invested, supported and scaled 175 clean and renewable energy businesses to deliver an energy revolution for nearly 2 million households, created over 9,000 direct jobs, and opened new markets that have attracted over US$370 million in private capital.

Agribusiness in Africa Window – Round 2 investee showcase

The Agribusiness in Africa Window Round 2 (AAW R2) was a continent-wide window launched in 2014 to support companies to invest in inclusive and innovative business ideas with the potential to increase productivity, employment, livelihood opportunities and incomes amongst the poor in sub-Saharan Africa.

A total of CAD 20 million in funding was committed to the programme, comprising of CAD 15 million from Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and CAD 5 million from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

Grant funding was awarded to 19 projects across 11 countries (Kenya, Nigeria, Malawi, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, and Burundi/DRC), with businesses working in a variety of agriculture value chains, including cashew, fruits, potatoes, moringa, livestock production and digital information services.

Taking the lead – Boosting agricultural productivity and food security in Sub-Saharan Africa

At AECF, we believe that Africa’s private sector holds the key to accelerating change. Across the continent, agri-focused SMEs are the main drivers of agricultural transformation with agriculture and agribusiness anticipated to become a US$ 1 trillion industry in Africa by 2030, delivering more jobs, income, and economic growth. Supporting efforts to achieve food security and improved incomes for all, many of these SMEs reach smallholder farmers, either directly or indirectly.

Taking the lead – Building a prosperous, enterprising and resilient Africa

AECF targets Small and Growing Businesses (SGBs) with financing needs under US$ 2 million, and in 2021, introduced a lower ticket size category of US$ 25,000 – US$ 100,000 to complement the existing range of US$ 100,000 – US$ 2,000,000 used to date.

Businesses and business proposals are selected based on their commercial viability, innovation, and potential development impact on rural and marginalised communities. To ensure AECF does not crowd out other sources of finance, investees co-finance the total cost of the project, with the exception of youth/women-focused and businesses in fragile contexts.

End of programme report – Agribusiness in Africa Window – Round 2

The Agribusiness in Africa Window Round 2 (AAW R2) was a continent-wide window launched in 2014 to support companies to invest in inclusive and innovative business ideas with the potential to increase productivity, employment, livelihood opportunities, and incomes amongst the poor in sub-Saharan Africa.

A total of CAD 20 million in funding was committed to the programme, comprising of CAD 15 million from Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and CAD 5 million from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

Grant funding was awarded to 19 projects across 11 countries (Kenya, Nigeria, Malawi, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, and Burundi/DRC), with businesses working in a variety of agriculture value chains, including cashew, fruits, potatoes, moringa, livestock production, and digital information services.

The AAW R2 was originally expected to end on December 31, 2020; it was extended by 18 months to complete activities delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The balance of drawdowns, together with uncommitted funds, was converted to a COVID-19 relief fund of US$1.3 million, which provided additional financing to 10 investees at the early stages of the pandemic, based on a competitive application and selection process.

The Real alternative: Marketing bio-technologies with smallholder farmers across Tanzania A case study of Real IPM in Tanzania

Real IPM was founded in Kenya in 2003 and mainly focused on servicing fresh produce exporters, including flower producers, with biological plant protection products such as predatory mites. AECF supported the company with scaling its production processes to enable it to more effectively reach smallholders.

In 2016, Real IPM established operations in Tanzania to provide biological products for smallholder farmers and was further supported by AECF in the development of innovative bio-coatings for seeds.

The business model aims at improving smallholder agricultural productivity, reducing production costs, ensuring food safety and sustainability by introducing bio-agents as solutions to address agricultural challenges faced by smallholder farmers in selected agricultural value chains of fresh fruits and vegetables, grains/cereals (especially rice and maize) and flowers. The innovation addressed crop protection, crop nutrition, and sustainable climate-smart agricultural (CSA) challenges through solutions that work for smallholder farmers.

Annual Report 2021

Welcome to our 2021 Annual Report. The theme of this year’s report is Difficult Terrains, Real Possibilities.

In this report, we highlight the possibilities created by the private sector when the right financing and technical assistance are made available. Journey with us as we share with you updates from our programmes, investees, and beneficiaries.

Galvanizing smallholder farmers to access new markets through high quality vegetable seeds – A case study of Africasia Seed Company Ltd in Tanzania

The demand for high-quality vegetables in Tanzania has steadily increased over the past decade as incomes and urbanization have increased. According to the Tanzania Official Seed Certification (TOSCI), more than half of the 60 registered seed companies in Tanzania deal in vegetable seeds. The market for these seeds is estimated at $25M, with an anticipated 260% growth to $65M by 2024.

Innovations in the fresh fruits and vegetable value chain are mostly driven by seed companies, which develop new varieties and provide extension services and demonstrations on good agricultural practices (GAP) to increase yields.

Through AECF’s Tanzania Agribusiness Window, Africasia Seed Company Limited (ASCL) received USD$ 500,000, which has gone a long way in the expansion of seed varieties available to farmers and improving the commercialization of fresh fruits and vegetable seed varieties through the establishment of demonstration plots, farmer field days, farmer training and meetings as mechanisms to facilitate market uptake.

The investment established a processing plant in Arusha, expanded fresh fruits and vegetable seed varieties, and strengthened the out-grower and production base for Open Pollinated Varieties (OPVs).

Scaling-up mini-grids for rural electrification – Lessons from AECF’s project portfolio

This report, which was researched and written by ENEA Consulting with expert input from AECF, has two main objectives. Firstly, it provides an overview of the key challenges facing the mini-grid sector, and the solutions mini-grid companies, governments, and development partners are implementing to overcome these challenges. Secondly, it analyses AECF’s future role in the mini-grid sector, assessing the issues AECF will be best placed to resolve.

Doing business during COVID-19 – Lessons from AECF investees in the renewable energy and agribusiness sector

COVID-19 has changed the playing field for businesses in Africa significantly. While the overall socio-economic impact of the pandemic is not yet well understood, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) estimates that 4 out of 5 businesses in Africa have been severely affected by lockdowns, travel restrictions, and supply and demand shocks.

Annual Report 2020

Welcome to our 2020 Annual Report. The theme of this year’s report is Resilience in action: Protecting development gains in a time of crisis highlights the impact of our investees across Sub-Sahara Africa and the lasting change they are bringing to the communities they serve.

Annual Report 2018

AECF is pleased to publish its 2019 Annual Report, which sets out the achievements across its two flagship programmes – agribusiness and renewable energy and adaptation to climate technologies (REACT) – and the further work that lies ahead in supporting pro-poor businesses to reach under-served communities in Africa with essential services, products, and jobs.

Annual Report 2019

AECF is pleased to publish its 2019 Annual Report, which sets out the achievements across its two flagship programmes – agribusiness and renewable energy and adaptation to climate technologies (REACT) – and the further work that lies ahead in supporting pro-poor businesses to reach under-served communities in Africa with essential services, products, and jobs.

Creating opportunities for decent work in the AECF’s agribusiness portfolio

The AECF at ten enters a new phase in its growth. Its focus is still very much on transforming the lives of the rural poor through agriculture and renewable energy, but with a renewed emphasis on those most difficult to reach groups. These have all too often, whether by reason of gender, age or geographical location, failed to benefit sufficiently from the impact of development.

Impact Report 2017

This paper examines the impact that agribusinesses funded by the AECF have had on creating opportunities for decent work. Using a mixture of quantitative and qualitative case studies, the AECF agribusiness portfolio was analyzed to assess how each of these mechanisms operates.

This analysis also examined whether certain types of projects have a greater impact on creating decent work opportunities.

Maximising the impact of outgrower schemes: Opportunities, challenges, and lessons from the AECF

This paper reviews the experience of outgrower projects funded by the AECF. Outgrower projects are a significant segment of the entire AECF portfolio, with 51 being funded across 14 different countries and a commitment totaling USD$33.4m. This paper addresses the following objectives:

  •  Improving our understanding of how AECF-funded outgrower projects benefit (or fail to benefit) smallholder farmers.
  • Identifying common characteristics of successful outgrower projects, including the most successful model type, from the perspective of both the smallholder and the company
  • Diagnosing common challenges faced by outgrower projects and analyzing how AECF grantees have overcome these challenges.