Kudakwashe Mhundwa Business Reporter
The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) plans to channel close to $10 million towards solar energy projects in four African countries including Zimbabwe. The AECF is part of the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) family and has been supported by governments (Australia, Canada, Denmark, The Netherlands, Sweden and United Kingdom), and international financial institutions (Consultative Group to Assist the Poor and IFAD).
AECF portfolio manager Victor Ndiege told The Herald Business that the organisation is targeting both start up and already existing companies and the funding tenure will last up to five years.
“In 2010 we introduced a renewable energy portfolio and specifically for this session we have come to promote renewable energy projects which are focused on four countries across Africa namely Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Sierra Leone.
“Currently we have 10 grantees in Mozambique who are benefiting from our funding and they have received investment of 13 million in the last four years. We have come back now with another $10million to be competed through and hoping to bring on board another 10 or 12 companies across the four countries. Our funding thresh hold is between $250 000 to $1, 5 million for each of the companies who will be deemed successful,” said Mr Ndiege.
“Our focus is on companies which can come forward with ideas, saying we have been doing or we want to do it but the limitation is money… so would you give us money to proceed and we say yes but on a competitive basis,” he said
Mr Ndiege highlighted that the organisation has a record of investing in agriculture across the continent and to date has availed funding totalling $256 million with them having injected $183 million.
“An example lies here in Zimbabwe where we have financed Better Agriculture a company that has been promoting chilli production with rural farmers and getting into regional and international markets.
“This has enabled many farmers to get a primary market for their produce and has also expanded the region`s export markets;” said Mr Ndiege
Chairman of the Renewable Energy Association of Zimbabwe Isaiah Nyakusendwa said the funding platform gives local players a big lift in terms of growing their business thereby getting a greater reach in the market.