US$1.2 million Innovation Fund Launched to Unearth Emerging Technologies

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Fund seeks to support entrepreneurs from 7 African countries, including Liberia, using renewable energy to start or diversify existing businesses

NAIROBI, Kenya– The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) has launched a US$1.2 million Innovation Fund to unlock the potential of renewable energy to create new business opportunities.

Businesses and entrepreneurs in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe can apply for funding. The fund, launched Thursday, March 18, 2021, is aimed at strengthening market readiness of emerging innovations, as well as secure financial, technical, and networking support for taking existing proven prototypes to scale.

According to the ACEF, 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 are examples that the Fund seeks to support. In applying, businesses and entrepreneurs will need to demonstrate how their proposed innovations will transform livelihoods of low-income households through creation of jobs and diversification of livelihoods.

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 (REACT) 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.

“The Innovation Fund is key to enhancing large-scale transformation within local communities,” said Victoria Sabula, Chief Executive Officer, AECF. “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.”

The deadline for the applications is 29th April 2021. The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (www.AECFafrica.org) is a leading development organization that supports businesses to innovate, create jobs and leverage investments in order to create resilience and sustainable incomes in rural and marginalized communities in Africa. Launched in 2008, AECF has invested in 292 businesses across more than 40 value chains and 26 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. AECF focuses specifically on agribusiness, renewable energy, and climate technologies, while also addressing the cross-cutting themes of gender, youth, and fragile contexts. In just over a decade, AECF has impacted more than 27.7 million lives, created close to 24,000 jobs, and leveraged over US$740 million in matching funds.

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