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.

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.

Mainstreaming Lessons From Adaptive Agriculture In The ASALs

This report was commissioned between August 2018 and March 2019 and conducted jointly by AECF and NIRAS. The study aimed to assess how best to mobilize the private sector within the ASALs of the sub-Sahara to guide “future investments in the ASALs, both through specific funding windows and more generally.”

Driving financial inclusion through renewable energy

This report presents the findings of the study commissioned by AECF and conducted by L-IFT, entitled ‘Does Renewable Energy Drive Financial Inclusion?’ The aim of the study was to explore the extent to which business models funded by AECF that have a secondary benefit of creating credit histories or delivering assets can also deliver access to finance – either from the original project partners or from third-party sources.

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.

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.