When conflict breaks out in a country, the economy is quickly brought to its knees. It disintegrates the structures and systems in society; it disrupts economic activities and livelihoods. Businesses and investors shut down. Once peace is restored it may take a long time for them to re-establish.
In Africa for example a majority of the population ceases to engage in any economic activities most important of which is agriculture and consequently there is low food production. Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, Director General of Sida acknowledges this: “Although 75 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa depends on agriculture for food and for income, the availability of food is still very uncertain and productivity remains low. Companies that could help develop and invest in agriculture are reluctant because of the high risks.” Catalyzing economic growth
Despite the high risks of doing business in countries that are emerging from conflict, these same countries present an opportunity for investment. TheAfrica Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) is a mechanism that invests in businesses that would otherwise not be successful without its funding because of the risk involved, among other reasons. “Investing in the agribusiness sector and funding innovative ways of providing rural financial services in countries that are emerging from conflict is one of the ways of rebuilding the economy. It also provides a source of livelihood for the population”, Hugh Scott, the AECF director.
With support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), AECF has opened a new competition especially for countries that are emerging from conflict. The focus countries for this competition are: DR Congo, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Somalia/Somaliland.
Calling on DR Congo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Somalia/Somaliland
In this competition, AECFwill co-fund successful applicants with grants of between US$250,000 and US$1.5 million. Business ideas across the whole agricultural value chain and in all sectors including livestock for example production, processing, input supplies, and logistics as well as rural finance, information and other related service sectors are eligible.
The competition is open to for-profit companies only, whose ideas will have an impact on the rural poor, increase employment and productivity. African and international companies are invited to download the application form from our website (www.aecfafrica.org/pcw/) and to apply. The applicant can be from anywhere in the world but the project must be implemented in one or more of these countries: DR Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and/or Somalia/Somaliland. The competition will close on
15th June 2012.
For enquiries on the competition please do not hesitate to contact the AECF adviser: je**********@ae********.org" target="_blank">Jenny Lofbom . For general information on the AECF, please send an email to in**@ae********.org.