By Omobayo Azeez
- Target 300 entrepreneurs from Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Uganda
- Agri-Business, Manufacturing, Energy and Renewables, Essential Services targeted sector
- 70% quota set for women-owned enterprises
The trio of Entrepreneurial Solutions Partners (ESPartners), the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) and Ecobank have announced a sum of $45 million as non-interest loans for entrepreneurs in Africa.
This followed their launch of the African Resilience Initiative for Entrepreneurs (ARIE) – a pan-African initiative to provide financial and technical assistance to 300 entrepreneurs.
The sponsors of ARIE have also revealed that beneficiaries of the initiative would contain at least 70 per cent of women-owned small businesses.
“Entrepreneurs are an important part of the ecosystem; they create markets where there often are none and help pave the way for future economic development,” USADF President and chief executive officer, C.D. Glin has said.
“Now more than ever we need to invest in the next generation of African-led ventures and empower them with the tools they need to transform their businesses, create jobs, increase incomes, attract private investment, and impact their communities,” he added.
They stated in a statement that the zero-interest loan will be focused on providing direct relief, intelligent business financing, equipping SMEs with the tools to pivot and connecting African businesses.
“ARIE will support entrepreneurs from seven countries: Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, and Uganda, and in the following sectors: Agri-Business, Manufacturing, Energy and Renewables, and Essential Services.
“Each SME selected will have the opportunity to receive up to $150,000 per firm, disbursed as an interest-free loan, and will receive technical support from experts across the continent. Applications are open between the 24th of August and the 25th of September, 2020,”ESPartners said.
According to the ESPartners, a survey by the International Trade Centre (ITC) shows that the pandemic has strongly affected nearly two-thirds of micro and small businesses around the world, with businesses in Africa being disproportionately affected.
“ESPartners’ drive to provide intelligent capital, the zero-interest loans will be disbursed to leading profitable businesses, providing them with the working capital they need to maintain operations and scale despite the pandemic.
“Additionally, the ARIE platform will be a repository on a wide range of topics, including access to markets, building human capacity, and scaling,” the ESPartners said.