US$1.2m fund for African entrepreneurs

March 25, 2021

BUSINESS REPORTER

The African Enterprise Challenge Fund has launched a US$1.2m Innovation Fund to unlock the potential of renewable energy to create new business opportunities for seven African countries including Zimbabwe.

Businesses and entrepreneurs in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe have up to April 29 to apply to the fund which seeks to strengthen market readiness of emerging innovations, as well as secure financial, technical, and networking support for taking existing proven prototypes to scale.

The fund seeks to support solutions that reduce the negative impacts associated with the use of traditional cooking options at the household and institutional levels, build climate change resilience among communities and support productive uses such as water pumping, agro-processing, cooling, and refrigeration services.

Under the Sustainable Development Goals, the world has set an ambitious target of ensuring universal access to reliable and sustainable energy by the end of the decade. But with half of the African continent without access to electricity, and two-thirds lacking access to clean cooking solutions, additional investment is needed to drive innovation and accelerate the uptake of modern energy.

The Innovation Fund builds on AECF’s Renewable Energy and Adaptation to Climate Technologies initiative, which was launched to support the private sector develop and expand its clean energy technologies to Africa’s rural communities. The Fund will invest in technologies that meet market needs as well as accelerating the development of existing solutions to better serve African communities and not technologies in the prototype stage.

AECF chief executive officer Victoria Sabula said the fund was key to enhancing large scale transformation within local communities.

“Investing in affordable and accessible renewable energy solutions can create jobs, grow economies, and build more sustainable livelihoods. Through the fund, we hope to unearth new ways that renewable technology – be it domestic, communal, or commercial – can be used to generate income and create jobs,” Sabula said.

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