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Mastercard Foundation launches agribusiness challenge for SMEs in Africa


The Mastercard Foundation Fund for Resilience and Prosperity has launched an Agribusiness Challenge Fund targeting SMEs across 20 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

The challenge is calling for proposals from SMEs in the agriculture sector that can create work opportunities at scale for young women and men, young persons with disabilities, and refugee youth. 

The Agribusiness Challenge Fund will provide SMEs with innovative and commercially viable agribusinesses the opportunity to receive support to upscale their businesses.

Mastercard Foundation said in a statement that the move is aimed at creating sustainable employment opportunities for young people, with particular focus on young women.

Selected SMEs will receive support from the Fund, including grants ranging from US$ 500,000 to US$ 2,500,000, disbursed over a 3-year period. This will be based on the applicants’ development stage, scalability and business model, in accordance with agreed periodic milestone targets.

The funding structure will be determined on a case-by-case basis after evaluating proposals and organizations. Additional support to successful applicants will include tailored technical assistance in alignment with FRP objectives over the 3-year period.

The Agribusiness Challenge Fund is the first of several sector-focused calls for proposals that the Fund will launch focused on the potential of the SMEs to create work opportunities at scale.

The Agribusiness Challenge Fund targets SMEs in the following 20 Sub-Saharan Africa countries: Kenya, Benin, Burundi, Botswana, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, DRC, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

“The agriculture sector presents great opportunities for innovative SMEs in Sub-Saharan Africa to grow, with opportunities to create dignified and fulfilling work for young people, especially young women, young persons with disabilities and refugee youth,” said Mrs. Smita Sanghrajka, Mastercard Foundation Fund for Resilience and Prosperity Engagement Partner.

She further stated that agri-SMEs in Sub-Saharan Africa lack enough financial support to scale and need capacity building that may lead to better business practices and investor readiness.

“The Mastercard Foundation is collaborating with a network of partners to create job opportunities for young people across Sub-Saharan Africa, in line with our Young Africa Works strategy. The Mastercard Foundation Fund for Resilience and Prosperity offers a fantastic opportunity for SMEs looking for support to expand and simultaneously generate employment for the youth,” said Mr. Daniel Hailu, Executive Director of Pan-African Programs at the Mastercard Foundation.

The Agribusiness Challenge Fund call for proposals is currently open and will close on November 22, 2024, with periodic collections of applications to be assessed every 12 weeks. 

The Mastercard Foundation Fund for Resilience and Prosperity agribusiness challenge will be open to SME applications as long as they meet the eligibility criteria and their projects are being implemented in at least one of the 20 focus countries the Fund is targeting. Unsuccessful applicants will have the opportunity to refine and resubmit their applications for subsequent collections.

The Mastercard Foundation Fund for Resilience and Prosperity is a new fund established following the successful conclusion of the Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity, which was in operation for eight years from 2014 to 2023 and supported 38 participant businesses from 15 countries in Africa. These businesses were able to innovate and scale financial products and services targeting the rural population and further enable financial inclusion for over 5.3 million people.

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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I track and report on tech and African startups. Founder and Editor of TechTrends Media. Nixon is also the East African tech editor for Africa Business Communities. Send tips to nkanali@techtrendske.co.ke.

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