Low levels of productivity and poorly integrated value chains greatly limit Africa’s ability to feed itself. And yet in sub-Saharan Africa, agriculture accounts for 32% of GDP and employs 65% of the workforce. The potential for agriculture to reduce food insecurity and poverty on the continent is not to be underestimated. At the AECF, we believe small and growing businesses hold the key to driving agricultural transformation and building resilience among smallholder communities. By providing catalytic funding and technical support to these enterprises, we work to boost productivity and improve the lives of smallholder farmers in Africa.
Since 2009, our agribusiness work has supported 198 companies across 26 countries in over 40 value chains. Through this portfolio we have invested over US$ 210 million, and currently have more than 35 active projects in the field. We have supported a diverse range of enterprises, including improved seed varieties and livestock vaccines, the introduction of new farming systems and agribusiness models, as well as the provision of financial, media and information services and technologies.
What areas does AECF support?
Accessible Innovations for Smallholders: We invest in businesses that have the potential to reach smallholder farmers to improve agricultural productivity and increase household income and food security. We work in a wide range of value chains and production systems to increase access to better quality agricultural inputs, improved seeds varieties and livestock vaccines, introduce new farming systems and agribusiness models.
Scaling Up Innovative Businesses: We act as the missing link between agricultural research and smallholder farmers by financing the commercialization of new technologies where others will not. Key investment areas include new fertilizers, vaccines, integrated pest management, disease resistant crops and soil testing.
Post Conflict and Fragile States: Post conflict and fragile states face particular challenges but the private sector is a key player in supporting the reconstruction of agribusinesses in these countries. With other sources of capital largely absent, We provide critical funding which has been a key driver in the re-establishment of agricultural value chains in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Sudan, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Open data and media to increase productivity: We support low cost communication technologies and business models for information and data sharing that can reach a large audience and provide information to smallholder farmers enabling them to improve agricultural productivity and incomes.
Promoting Financial Inclusion and Mobile Finance: Improving access to finance is a priority for us. We support projects that use mobile money systems, create local financing mechanisms, introduce weather based insurance and establish credit systems. This improves agricultural productivity and household incomes. It also establishes non-collateral credit scoring for smallholders that enable them to access formal financial systems in the future.