The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) for Business Competition for Africans and non-Africans

Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund: supporting business innovation based on agricultural research

Course(s) Offered: New ideas
Course Level: All levels
Provider: AECF
Country to Study in: Africa

Scholarship Description
Challenge funds are a mechanism for allocating and disbursing public funds efficiently and fairly. Organizations are invited to bid for scarce resources, not unlike a tender but where what counts is the quality of the response, not price. Rules are set and publicized, covering eligibility, the bidding process and the way that bids will be evaluated. Two separate bodies administer the process and decide on who gets an award, to avoid possible conflict of interest.

The intention is to get funds to the organizations that truly need them and can use them effectively to realize the broader aims of public policy; and to do this transparently. In the case of AECF the overall policy aim is to promote new ideas that will lead to growth in the rural economies of Africa, generating employment and creating new opportunities for systemic change in the markets that serve them.

The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) launched the second of its dedicated Research Into Business Window competitions (RIB R2) on 15 October 2010.

The AECF is supporting business innovation based on agricultural research. If your company has a great business idea in this field, then you should compete for attention in our special AECF RIB Window.

If your company has an innovative and commercially viable business idea that will have a development impact, but the risks are holding you back, then the AECF RIB is for you. The RIB window is open for business opportunities throughout Africa and to both African and international applicants. RIB will not fund primary research but will consider any idea which aims to turn existing (or near complete) Research Into a profitable Business.

We are calling for proposals that combine profitability with developmental and social impact.

Eligible groups
Open to proposals from any country in the world as long as the project implementation will be in the specified country. Multi-country and regional projects are also eligible. Please note that specific countries and/or regions may be targeted (see Fields of study below).

Participating Institutions
All businesses and business opportunities located throughout Africa and managed by both African and/or international applicants are eligible.

The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) operates from three regional hubs (Nairobi, Accra; Johannesburg and Harare).

Fields of study
Any and all innovative and commercially viable business ideas that will have a development impact, generate employment and create new opportunities in the rural economies of Africa.

AECF offers Funding Windows targeted at specific economic sectors (including research-based agribusiness, renewable energy and rural financial services), at specific countries (including Zimbabwe and Tanzania and South Sudan) or at development corridors involving several countries. Other windows may be added and each window will generally offer more than one Funding Round for additional new applications. It is not a once-only opportunity, please see Funding Windows.

Number of awards
Not specified - funds are given to organizations that truly need them and can use them effectively and transparently. Past winners are shown on the Projects page.

Sponsorship duration
Inquire from the provider

Scholarship benefits
The maximum amount the AECF can award to a single business idea is US$ 1.5m and the minimum is US$ 250,000, although this amount may vary depending on the competition. The average amount is expected to be around US$ 750,000.

Through the provision of grant and repayable grant funding, the AECF RIB window seeks to promote risk-taking and innovation to encourage businesses to extend their core activities in ways that create opportunities for rural low-income people.

Method of Application
The rules, management structure and processes referred to above are all set out on the official website (link to it is below). 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.

The second edition of this competition (RIB R2) launched on 15th October 2010 and deadline for applications is the 15th December 2010.

The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) is a US$205m 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 current funders of the AECF are the Australian Government Aid Program, Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), the UKAid Department for International Development (DFID), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NMFA), and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). Other funders may join in due course.

Application Deadline: 15 December 2010
Open to International students: Yes

More Scholarship Information and Application

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