We at the African Enterprise Challenge Fund are currently searching for the most innovative business solutions aiming to impact the rural poor in the following three focal areas;
- access to affordable clean energy,
- technologies which facilitate climate change adaptation
- financial and information services connected to clean energy and adaptation to climate change.
Mozambique is a country facing serious challenges with regards to both access to clean energy as well as the impact of climate change. It is a country where over 80% of the population lack access to electricity due to “inadequate basic infrastructure, lack of investment, lack of a market network, and the huge cost of installing an energy grid, among others” as stated in a 2010 report from the International Institute for Sustainable Development. Furthermore, in 2009, a report from Mozambique’s National Disaster Management Institute concluded that the “exposure of Mozambique to natural disaster risk will increase significantly over the coming 20 years”. With recent floods in January 2013 fresh in mind the urgent need for innovative ideas to address the challenges the Mozambicans are facing is apparent: challenges include food insecurity, loss of arable land, unpredictability of weather, salt water intrusion to mention a few key ones. Needless to say, there is a serious need for “out-of-the-box-thinking” and innovation in order to rectify this situation.
As a step towards addressing these challenges the AECF REACT Mozambique-window awards like-for-like funding support ranging from between $250 000 to $1.5 million to the best business ideas which demonstrate a positive impact on the rural poor through job creation, increased incomes and productivity or reduced costs. This includes, but is not limited to, cost effective renewable power, off- or mini-grid solutions, commercially viable renewable fuels and other clean energy alternatives. Furthermore, products and services that help smallholder farmers adapt to climate change are also eligible for support, which could be exemplified by drought resistant seeds, water harvesting, conservation technologies, information or early warning weather systems that increase resilience and reduce vulnerability. Lastly, the competition encourages ideas on financial or information services that increase access to finance for low-cost clean energy and climate resilient technologies or that catalyse financial solutions, such as weather insurance, for smallholder farmers.
However the possibilities are not limited to this list of areas for innovation. It is our firm belief that there is no “one big solution” to these problems; instead a multipronged approach is needed. We therefore urge you to inspire yourselves and others and voice your ideas of what could be the contributing solutions. Use your expertise and share your knowledge, comment on this blog piece or join our discussion on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. The REACT Mozambique-competition is ongoing at this very moment and we urge you to use the experience from other sectors, projects or regions to help us paint the picture of what kind of services the Mozambicans could and should have access to. If you represent a company, tell us what you could do, and if you are an NGO or a government official, please let us know what the companies should do!
If your idea is too good to tell others about and you wish to make it a reality, please visit the AECF REACT webpage (www.aecfafrica.org/react) to download the initial application form. Our competition is open until the 31th of May.
The Renewable Energy and Adaptation to Climate Technologies (REACT) Mozambique Window is a special fund of the AECF that is open to business ideas based on low cost, clean energy and solutions that help farmers adapt to climate change. The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NMFA) is the funder of the AECF REACT Mozambique window. The competition is open only to for-profit companies but African and international companies alike are welcome to apply. There is no restriction on where the applicant company is from, only that the project must take place in Mozambique.
The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) is a fund to support private sector investment that benefits the rural poor in Africa. It is backed by some of the biggest names in development finance and hosted by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). Our aim is to encourage private sector companies to compete for like-for-like investment support for new business projects.