New US-led initiative to help accelerate small businesses in Africa


The US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and US African Development Foundation (USADF) have launched the African Small Business Catalyst (ASBC), a business accelerator for early growth-stage small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The ASBC seeks to support SMEs in four countries – Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda – focused in key sectors including agriculture and food security, education, healthcare, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). 

The initiative will provide loans in amounts ranging from US$100,000 to US$1 million, complemented by both technical assistance and grants up to US$100,000. The grants, mentoring, training, and technical assistance available to clients will help companies develop their business models, build up management skills, expand market reach, and deepen their impact among underserved populations.

“The African Small Business Catalyst is a landmark US government collaboration designed to bring together DFC’s and USADF’s unique and complementary investment tools to boost private sector-led development in sub-Saharan Africa,” said DFC CEO Scott Nathan. “By partnering with USADF, DFC will be able to reach smaller companies in an earlier stage, accelerating development in industries key to Africa’s overall economic growth.”

USADF President and CEO Travis Adkins said his his organisation had a growing list of partners such as the DFC which were expanding its resources and results in strengthening African SMEs and improving the availability and affordability of the financing they need to scale and make greater impact in their communities.

“We’re excited to serve as the DFC’s preferred partner on the African Small Business Catalyst and to employ USADF’s tried and tested model of localised, African-led development that grows incomes, employment opportunities, and African SMEs into future trading partners for the United States and engines of economic growth for their nations,” he said.

Interested, qualified businesses are encouraged to apply through the ASBC application portal by April 15.


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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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