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.

Finance for Inclusive Growth – Midterm Assesment

The Finance for Inclusive Growth in Somalia (FIG – Somalia) programme, implemented by AECF through MFI partners, is a pilot programme
component under the European Union-funded Inclusive Local and Economic Development (ILED).

AECF commissioned a midterm review to evaluate the programme’s implementation and propose corrective actions for the remaining period of the project implementation

Mobilising the private sector in the fight against counterfeit agro-inputs – A case study of mPedigree in Tanzania

Agriculture is the backbone of Tanzania’s economy and accounts for almost a third of GDP and 65% of employment, with women constituting 70% of this labour force. The problem of fake, counterfeit, or substandard agro-inputs in Tanzania has not been well-researched but has been considered substantial by some observers. Anecdotal evidence estimates that 30-40% of agro-inputs (seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides) are counterfeit, of which seeds are most highly counterfeited at 46.8%.

AECF investee mPedigree is using serialized labels as a measure to verify seed authenticity that has the potential to transform the management of counterfeit agro-inputs through integrating technology in seed quality regulation.

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.

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.

The impact of financing business models on access to solar home systems and women’s financial inclusion

This study investigates how two of the funded organisations, FINCOOP Savings and Credit Cooperative in Malawi and MoneyMart Finance in Zimbabwe, are implementing innovative financing solutions for women. This study aims to generate knowledge and insights on the impact of different business models on access to affordable solar home systems and women’s financial inclusion in Malawi and Zimbabwe.

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.

Women’s economic participation in B’Ayoba

B’Ayoba (pvt) Ltd is an AECF grantee in Zimbabwe dedicated to producing, processing, and marketing fruit from the baobab tree. The business model involves the collection and primary
processing of baobab fruits in remote rural areas in Zimbabwe. Villagers collect the whole baobab fruit from the trees for transport to B’Ayoba collection centers, where they are checked for quality before being transported to a central processing plant for export to North America and Europe. This case study examines the level of women’s participation and finds that they have been the primary beneficiaries of the project, receiving 63% of the total paid out to baobab collectors. The data used is drawn from B’Ayoba collectors in the Mount Darwin region, in the arid north of Zimbabwe.

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.

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.

Registering and certifying agricultural inputs in Tanzania

Tanzania’s agricultural sector is central to the economy, but productivity is strikingly low, largely due to the limited adoption of recommended agricultural inputs such as improved seed, fertilizer, and agrochemicals (pesticides) by farmers. Agro-input prices are generally high, quality is often low, and availability is limited.

This study argues that a leading cause of dysfunction in the agro-input market is the protracted and costly process of registering and certifying new inputs and technologies. Shortening and simplifying the registration process would immediately and positively impact the input market, boosting supply, increasing competition, and enhancing product quality and availability for farmers. This, in turn, would boost agricultural productivity and incomes.