Funding available for innovative business ideas

African entrepreneurs have the opportunity to receive funding for their business ideas by entering one of the AECF’s competitions.

What is the AECF?

The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) is a US$100m private sector fund, backed by some of the biggest names in development finance and hosted by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). Our aim is to encourage private sector companies to compete for investment support for their new and innovative business ideas.

The AECF is a competition, open only to for-profit private companies which are starting, or intend to start, new ventures in specific fields. Companies are invited to submit proposals outlining their business idea or concept for funding.

Which ideas does the AECF support?

We fund innovative business ideas in agribusiness, rural financial services, renewable energy and technologies to assist small farmers to adapt to climate change. To qualify for funding a project should have a positive impact on the rural poor in Africa, delivering increased employment, reduced costs, and improved productivity.

Which competitions are the AECF currently running?

The AECF has launched 4 new competitions. Second rounds of the Zimbabwe competition (AECF ZW R2) and Research into Business (AECF RIB R2) were launched on October 15th 2010. New competitions for Agribusiness in Tanzania (AECF TZAW R1) and Renewable Energy and Adaptation to Climate Technologies (AECF REACT R1) for East Africa launched on November 1st 2010.

What types of funding support does the AECF provide?

The AECF provides grants and interest free loans from a minimum of US$250,000 to a maximum of US$1.5m per project.

How does my business apply?

Visit the AECF website ( and view the selection criteria and initial application form. Complete the application form online and submit – it is easy to complete and only requires an outline description of your company and your project.

How are successful proposals selected?

The selection criteria can vary for each competition but our key selection criteria are capacity of company, innovation, commercial viability, direct impact on poor people in rural areas and the potential for wider impact on the market system in which the business operates. The AECF’s independent Investment Committee selects those proposals with the best fit with the selection criteria and invites these to present a detailed business plan. The final selection of businesses to be awarded funding is then made.

Does my company have to contribute?

Applicants must provide matching funds at least equal to, or greater than, the amount of funds requested from the AECF. Businesses that are willing to contribute a greater percentage of the project costs and accept the majority of AECF funds as an interest free loan are more likely to receive AECF support.

How long does the approval process take?

Funding approval for successful applications will be granted within a maximum of 150 days from the closing date for applications.

Who funds The AECF?

The Australian Government Aid Program, the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP), UKaid from the Department for International Development, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NMFA) currently provide funding for the AECF.

Who manages the AECF?

The Fund Manager of the AECF is KPMG Development Advisory Services. Under contract to KPMG, additional support is provided by Triple Line Consulting, Imani Development Group, Creative Squares Ltd, Acumen Africa Consulting, the Springfield Centre and Y&R Brands.

Progress to date

Since the launch of the AECF in Cape Town in June 2008, seven competitions have been held and 4 more opened in late 2010. The AECF has approved funding for 40 projects across 14 countries of which 36 have signed contracts and are fully operational. We look forward to doubling our project portfolio to 80 projects by the end of 2011.

Contact Details

For more information please send an email to [email protected], or visit our website at

Promotional Feature