The program will support 300 high-performing entrepreneurs with up to 150,000 USD each in zero-interest loans, and will provide technical support to spur Africa’s economic recovery.
Entrepreneurial Solutions Partners (ESP), in partnership with the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) and close collaboration with Ecobank, has launched the African Resilience Initiative for Entrepreneurs (ARIE) – a pan-african initiative to provide financial and technical assistance to 300 entrepreneurs (approximately 70% of whom will be women-owned) impacted by COVID-19.
“At ESP, we fully comprehend that SMEs are the engine of economic growth and development in every country. Since its inception 10 years ago, ESP has developed and implemented a variety of customized programs specifically geared towards supporting SMEs in more than 15 African countries. Through our Pan African reach, we understand that African SMEs are more vulnerable than ever in the new Covid-19 reality, which is the impetus behind the ARIE program. We are delighted to offer this initiative to help them navigate this pandemic while continuing to grow their business, be a source of employment and improvement in the welfare of people in their communities,” said Eric Kacou.
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 USD per firm, disbursed as an interest-free loan, and will receive technical support from experts across the continent.
“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 CEO C.D. Glin stated. “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.”
Intelligent Business Financing – In line with ESP’s 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.
Josephine Anan-Ankomah, Group Executive, Commercial Banking, Ecobank Group commenting on the collaboration stated that the Ecobank Group is delighted to be part of the ARIE Program. “We know the continent, have the platforms and have worked with SMEs variously in the 7 countries where the program will be implemented. We understand the critical role SMEs play in African economies and the imperative for them to access technical and financial support more so now with the impact of COVID-19. Ecobank is particularly pleased with ARIE’s focus on women and youth led businesses which are key to the economic and social development of the continent.”
Equipping SMEs with the tools to pivot – Africa’s businesses are as diverse as Africans are, and the immediate and concrete technical support available through the fund will be tailored to their unique needs. Each entrepreneur will be assigned a business advisor that will support them in diagnosing and rethinking their strategy and operational efficiency, and a team of experts that will help them adapt and navigate this present economic reality. By doing this, the ARIE platform will provide African SMEs with the unique opportunities and business exposure that position them to play a meaningful role in Africa’s economic recovery in the years to come.
Connecting African businesses – In an era where Intra-Africa trade is key, the ARIE platform will help SMEs harness opportunities unleashed by the establishment of an African Continental Free Trade Area.
The ARIE platform will help connect African SMEs to potential investors and networks they require to expand their geographical coverage, and will enhance their capacity to trade across borders. These connections will be critical is recouping devastated African economies and jumpstarting economic recovery.
The applications are open till the 25th of September, 2020. Apply here: https://bit.ly/ARIE2020
For more information on eligibility criteria and how to apply for funding, write to firstname.lastname@example.org
About ESP: ESP supports African Entrepreneurs with the optimum mix of technical skills and access to finance known as Intelligent capital*, to enable growth and foster socio-economic impact.
About USADF: The U.S. African Development Foundation is an independent U.S. government agency established by Congress to invest directly in African grassroots enterprises and social entrepreneurs.
About Ecobank Group: Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (‘ETI’) is the parent company of the Ecobank Group, the leading independent pan-African banking group.
Nadège Gaju, ARIE Project Manager