HomeNewsShot in the arm for agribusiness

Shot in the arm for agribusiness

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The Africa Enterprises Challenge Fund (AECF), a private sector fund backed by international development partners, is rolling out an agribusiness financing programme for local companies, which seeks to alleviate poverty in rural areas, as the country’s agro-sector remains hamstrung by capital.

Under the facility named ZW R3, the organisation will co-fund successful applicants with grants and repayable loans of between $250 000 and $1,5 million during the third round of the project.

Interested businesses are expected to formulate ideas that demonstrate a positive impact on the rural poor to qualify for the assistance.

International audit and advisory firm KPMG Africa International Development Assistance Services will administer the project.

AECF is a $150 million private sector fund, backed by some of the biggest names in development finance and hosted by the alliance for Green Revolution in Africa.

“I am pleased with the opportunities that this third funding round in Zimbabwe offers in catalysing more private sector and enterprise development across Zimbabwe, leading to increased market access, jobs and incomes,” said KPMG and AECF Southern Africa director Corin Mitchell.

“In order to qualify, business ideas must demonstrate a positive impact on the rural poor in Zimbabwe, deliver increased employment and income, reduce costs and improve productivity.”
He said through the ZW R3 competition, the AECF aimed at catalysing private sector investment in agribusiness and rural finance to cause a change in the market system in Zimbabwe.

There had been two previous rounds of the competition in Zimbabwe.

The first round of ZW R1 was launched in 2009 and 10 companies were awarded funding. ZW R2 was launched in October 2010 and nine businesses received funding.

Australia’s ambassador to Zimbabwe Matthew Neuhaus challenged the private sector to rise to the opportunities brought about by the AECF ZWR3 fund and to respond with innovative business ideas that will impact on the lives of Zimbabwe’s rural people.

“I look forward to seeing broad participation of the Zimbabwean business community in this competition,” Neuhaus said.

ZW R3 is financed by the Australian government Aid Programme, the Swedish Development Co-operation Agency and UKAid through the Department for International Development.

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