New enterprise fund launched to spur farmers, business growth

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A new entity aimed at creating a sustainable rural livelihood through private sector led initiative was launched in Nairobi on Tuesday.

The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) launched by Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), an agricultural development organization, is expected to unlock the potential of rural Africa by increasing its productivity and job creation.

“We plan to empower young people and women by giving them relevant skills to the market place,” AECF’s Board chair, Lord Paul Boateng said at the launch.

Boateng said the fund is set to redouble efforts in agriculture, agribusiness and renewable energy in Africa’s development plan.

“We plan to increase the funding base to 500 million U.S. dollars from 256 million dollars within the next three to five years in the next phase, with special attention to gender issues and youth employment,” he added.

AGRA President Agnes Kalibata said that agriculture remains Africa’s surest path to prosperity and the AECF’s work in scaling-up investments in agribusinesses and related sectors will be critical in realizing this potential.

“We will continue to partner closely with the fund as it moves into this new era by ensuring that African farmers get better service,” Kalibata added.

AECF is currently visible in a number of countries including Kenya, Somalia, Burundi, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Liberia, Ghana, DR Congo, South Sudan, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Zambia and Gambia.

“It has contributed to growth and transformation in the lives of rural communities in Africa,” said Paul Greener, AECF CEO.

Greener said that that the organization provides catalytic funding as grants or zero interest loans to private sector businesses that have a positive impact on rural poor in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Boateng said the organization that funds businesses in agribusiness, rural financial services, communications systems, renewable energy and adaptation of innovative technologies to combat climate change will endeavor to expand its operations to new geographies in Africa.

So far 57 percent of the funds have been invested in agriculture and there are plans to expand to other sectors in the near future.

The combination of these investments in the different sectors allows the fund to generate innovative and profitable ways of improving how markets work for the rural poor.

The fund provides funding to businesses by running a series of thematic and geographic competitions targeting specific economic sectors in Africa. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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