The Agriculture Fast Track Fund, a new multi-donor trust fund, managed by the African Development Bank (AfDB), designed to boost investment in Africa's agricultural sector, is now accepting applications for new grants.
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Launching the call for proposals, the AfDB's Agriculture and Agro-Industry department manager, Josephine Mwangi, said: "If you are in the agriculture business and qualify, then we want to hear from you!"
The AFT provides grant funds up to US$1.5-million for project development costs such as feasibility studies, market research, financial modeling, business plan development, and environmental and social impact studies.
Reducing infrastructure deficiency
The fund's main objective is to reduce the infrastructure deficiency in the agriculture sector by developing a pipeline of projects that are attractive to development finance institutions and can engage the private sector as project sponsors.
By offering entrepreneurs an opportunity to transform their good ideas into bankable investments, AFT aims to attract financiers by ensuring that the grantees present low-risk profitable investments.
In order to qualify for an AFT grant however, applicants must meet a rigorous set of criteria, namely:
- Contribute to Africa's agricultural infrastructure;
- Contribute to the economic health of Africa's struggling smallholder farmers;
- Seek a minimum investment of USD 1 million;
- Be based in one of the six pilot countries: Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania.
The AFT, hosted and managed by the AfDB, is funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Swedish Development Agency (SIDA) and the Danish International Development Agency (Danida). The Agriculture Fast Track Fund was approved by the Bank Group Board of Directors on 8 May 2013, and launched and signed in Cape Town, South Africa, on 9 May 2013 at the sidelines of the Grow Africa Investment Forum, during the World Economic Forum. The fund has already awarded six grants for a total amount of US$3,217,000.
The call for proposals for grants from the Agriculture Fast Track Fund (AFT) is open until 31 December 2013.
Applications are received through the AFT web-based application platform at www.AFTfund.org