The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) is a US $310 million private sector fund that provides catalytic funding to enterprises in 24 countries across sub-Saharan Africa. The Fund supports innovative commercial businesses in the agribusiness, renewable energy and adaptation to climate change technology sectors with the aim of reducing rural poverty, promoting resilient rural communities and creating jobs through private sector development. The AECF invests in businesses that are seen as “risky” and that struggle to meet traditional risk-return standards for commercial investors and which offer significant impact on poverty alleviation by creating jobs and sustainable incomes.
Since 2008, the AECF has been supported by donor governments namely Australia, Canada, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom, and international finance institutions such as the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor and IFAD.
In 2017, the AECF entered a new phase as a standalone institution within the AGRA family with the objective of expanding its geographical reach, double its funding base and increase its transformative impact on inclusive growth. To achieve this the Fund will deepen its focus on gender issues, youth and employment. The new strategy will build on the Fund’s track record of creating sustainable rural livelihoods through private sector-led initiatives that change the way markets work for the poor.
Areas of Investment
The AECF targets investments in the following sectors:
- Agriculture and agribusiness
- Renewable energy and adaptations to climate change
- Rural financial services and communications systems that support the two sectors