The African Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) has today 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 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.
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.
Chief Executive Officer of AECF, Victoria Sabula, said:
“The Innovation Fund is 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,” she said.
The deadline for the applications is 29th April 2021.