Mastercard Foundation launches agribusiness challenge, calls for proposals from African SMEs

The Mastercard Foundation Fund for Resilience and Prosperity has launched an Agribusiness Challenge Fund, calling for proposals from agricultural SMEs that can create work opportunities for the youth, people with disabilities, and refugees.

The Fund will provide SMEs with innovative and commercially viable agribusinesses across 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa the opportunity to upscale their businesses to create sustainable employment opportunities.

Selected SMEs will receive grants ranging from US$ 500,000 to US$ 2,500,000, disbursed over a three-year period, based on the applicants’ development stage, scalability and business model, in accordance with agreed periodic milestones. The funding structure will be determined on a case-by-case basis after evaluating proposals and organisations.

Successful applicants will also get tailored technical assistance aligned with the Fund’s objectives.

The Challenge is the first of several sector-focused calls for proposals that the Fund will launch. It targets SMEs in 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.

Dignified and fulfilling work

“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, persons with disabilities and refugees,” 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 upscale, and need capacity building for 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 Fund 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 Programmes at Mastercard Foundation.

November deadline

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

The Challenge will be open to SMEs as long as they meet the eligibility criteria and their projects are in at least one of the 20 focus countries.

Unsuccessful applicants will be allowed to refine and resubmit their applications.

The Fund was established recently 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 businesses from 15 African countries.

These businesses were able to innovate and upscale financial products and services targeting the rural population, and to further enable financial inclusion of over 5.3 million people.

Potential applicants for the Challenge can access the application platform at the Fund’s website: www.frp.org

The seven-year US$ 126 million Fund aims to support SMEs across three sectors in the 20 countries. Its main objective is to unlock enterprise growth and catalyse, scale-up and sustain the creation of dignified and fulfilling work opportunities for young women and men.

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Source:By Zablon Oyugi