Entrepreneurial Solutions Partners (ESPartners), in partnership with the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) and Ecobank, initiated the African Resilience Initiative for Entrepreneurs (ARIE) – a pan-African project to offer financial and technical assistance to 300 entrepreneurs (about 70 per cent of whom would be women) affected by COVID-19.
“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 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.”
Offering Direct Relief for African Businesses
A study by the International Trade Center (ITC) reveals that nearly two-thirds of micro and small businesses across the world have been seriously affected by the pandemic, with enterprises in Africa being especially impacted.
ARIE will help businessmen from seven countries: Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and Uganda, as well as from the following sectors: Agri-Business, Manufacturing, Energy and Renewables, and Essential Services. Each selected SME will be given the opportunity to receive up to $150,000 per company, disbursed as an interest-free loan, and will receive technical assistance from experts across the continent.
Applications are open from the 24th of August until 25th of September 2020. To read more about qualifying requirements and how to qualify for grants, please click here.
Smart Business Financing
In line with the push of ESPartners to provide smart funding, zero-interest loans would be disbursed to lead profitable companies, providing them with the operating capital they need to continue operations and scale despite the pandemic. In addition, the ARIE website will be a portal covering a wide variety of subjects, including business participation, human capacity development and scaling.
Empowering SMEs with the tools to pivot
African businesses are as dynamic as Africans are, and their specific needs will be tailored to the urgent and practical technological assistance provided across the Fund. A business advisor will be assigned to each entrepreneur to assist them in the diagnosis and rethinking of their strategy and operational efficiency, and a team of experts to help them adapt and navigate this present economic reality. In doing so, the ARIE initiative will offer new incentives and market visibility for African SMEs that will position them to play a significant role in Africa’s economic development in the years ahead.
Networking African businesses
The ARIE platform will help SMEs leverage opportunities created by the establishment of an African Continental Free Trade Area. The ARIE platform will help link African SMEs to potential investors and networks that they need to extend their regional reach and improve their cross-border trading ability. Recovering ravaged African economies and jump-starting global growth would be key to those ties.