By D E Wasake, Principal,

Basic information


Late start up for profit companies (at least 2 years’ audited results) who have:

“Innovative ideas that will specifically help to remove poverty in rural Africa through a partnership with private enterprises.

The purpose is to improve the incomes of small holder farmers and the rural poor.”

Sector focus:

These are 6 focus areas for the fund:

  • Agriculture
  • Agribusiness
  • renewable energy
  • adaptation to climate change
  • access to information and
  • financial services.

Amounts provided:

Varies (depending on size of venture) but:  

  • Minimum: $250,000
  • Maximum: $1.5 million.

AECF also requires your company to provide at least 50% of the required investment in “new money” (hence it is a matching fund)

Funding type

Grants and interest free Loans - following a competition and in line with a specific funding window.

Key criteria

1)     At least 2 years’ audited accounts – hopefully profitable.

2)     At least 50% in “new money” available from you the investor to support the project as the fund only “matches” your contribution.

3)     High impact innovation. The fund is looking for high impact in “rural Africa”.  

Further information

The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund
10th Floor, ABC Towers, ABC Place
Waiyaki Way, Nairobi, Kenya

P O Box 13459-00100 GPO
Nairobi - Kenya

Telephone: +254 20 269 9137/8/9

 Who is behind the Fund?

The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) was launched at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, South Africa and became operational in May 2008.

The AECF is a US$ 207m (Dec 2012) challenge fund capitalized by multilateral and bilateral donors (the AECF donors) to stimulate private sector entrepreneurs in Africa to innovate and find profitable ways of improving access to markets and the way markets function for the poor, particularly in rural areas.

The funders are well known multilateral donors like:

·         DFID – UK government aid arm

·         SIDA – Swedish government aid arm

·         Australian Government aid arm

·         Kingdom of Netherlands

·         DANIDA – Danish foreign service

·         IFAD – International Fund for Agricultural Development

What is the process like?

To date (August 14 information) of 8,232 applications received, 179 had received approval. This is a 2% success rate indicating a rigorous process which includes:

  • Initial application stage – written application form. During the first stage, the applications are assessed solely on the quality of the written submissions. The best applications are short listed and forwarded to an independent Investment committee.
  • Assessment by investment committee – The committee then further short lists and chooses which ones will progress to the business plan stage where a more comprehensive plan is submitted in line with AECF templates.
  • Project site visit – The fund manager visits the business to guide them through the finalisation and perform an assessment.
  • Final selection – The fund manager presents complete business plans to the investment committee who select the projects to be funded.
  • Post award formalities –guidance on policies and procedures, setting out the contract terms and disbursing funds
  • Reporting and monitoring – All grantees are required to report semi annually in addition to the regular monitoring and evaluation by the assigned manager including semi annual visits to assess technical and financial viability.

The overall process takes about 240 days – in their own words:

“Funding approval for successful applications will be granted within a maximum of 240 days from the closing date for applications.”

You can find out more at:

Our view/tips for success?

  1. Find the right window.

The fund invests using different “windows” or “sub funds” which cater for different areas of interest. These include:

React window -a special fund of the AECF that is open to business ideas based on low cost clean energy and solutions (technologies, products, services) that can help rural people adapt to climate change.

RIB window - Research into Business Window (RIB) is a special window of the AECF with the aim of stimulating the private sector to commercialize existing, readily available and near complete agricultural research and technology products for the benefit of the rural poor in Africa.

AAW window -The AECF Agribusiness Africa Window (AAW) is a special fund of the AECF that is open to business ideas across Africa. The AECF AAW supports business ideas in the fields of agribusiness, financial services and value chains which extend across Africa and international markets.

  1. Understand the success stories – particularly those for Uganda. If possible even speak to those who have succeeded previously. These include:
  • Africafish
  • Fenix International Limited
  • Farm Support Limited
  • Sunshine Agro products
  • SolarNow BV
  • Microenergy credits
  • Brentec Investments limited

This will give you a good idea of the process and what they (fund) look for.

3.     High impact and scalability. Considering the large number of donor partners involved and the core focus of the fund on tackling poverty for the “rural poor of Africa”, you can expect that this type of fund is looking for “Large impact” projects which can be used to show case the success of donor aid to their home governments. A good business model will therefore need to show that in addition to maximum impact, the model will need to able to be replicated, cheaply, preferably in other emerging African economies so as to change lives there as well.

Otherwise best of luck!  If you need further assistance or guidance, contact our team


Inachee is not an agent or connected to this entity. It is an independent thought leadership and advisory firm.

The information provided is based on our research, experience and if we are able to contact them, by speaking to this entity’s personnel. Whilst we have taken steps to ensure the accuracy of the information presented here, there can be no guarantee that it will remain accurate.