Proparco invests in ARAF, the first-of-its-kind equity fund to drive climate adaptation for smallholder farmers across sub-Saharan Africa

27 Jul 2021

Proparco - through FISEA+, the AFD Group fund advised by Proparco – signed a US$5mn investment in Acumen Resilient Agriculture Fund (ARAF). The fund invests in agri-startups in East and West Africa that help smallholder farmers adapt to climate change. This project is part of the French Choose Africa initiative and its Resilience component.

ARAF is an impact agriculture venture capital fund managed by Acumen Capital Partners, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the global social impact investor Acumen.

With ARAF, Acumen is committed to the issues of food security and climate change, which are crucial for the development of the African continent. Poverty, climate change and resilient agriculture are indeed intrinsically linked : more than half of the people living in poverty are smallholder farmers. These farmers provide a third of the world’s food supply.

By supporting African businesses that offer innovative solutions to smallholder farmers in East and West Africa, ARAF seeks to build an ecosystem that enables farmers to raise their incomes and increase their climate resilience.

Alongside Green Climate Fund (GCF), FMO, the Soros Economic Development Fund, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Global Social Impact, and other investors and funders, Proparco, through FISEA +, invested a US$5mn equity in ARAF.

Smallholder farmers are the main contributors to agricultural output in Africa, yet they are also particularly vulnerable to any shocks and their vulnerability is further increased by the impact of climate change. Proparco, through FISEA+, is proud to team up with its partners to support African innovative agri-startups that provide solutions to enhance the livelihood and climate resilience of smallholder farmers. Investing in ARAF is essential in helping early-stage businesses secure long-term financing. In this respect, this operation is fully in line with PROPARCO’s priorities, in particular under the French Choose Africa initiative and its Resilience component, said Johann Choux, Head of Equity Investments – Financial Institutions & VC at Proparco.

“Smallholder farmers feed the world, but they are among the most affected by the climate crisis,” said ARAF’s Managing Director Tamer El-Raghy. “ARAF’s impressive US$58mn close, US$8mn above our initial target for the fund, is a watershed moment and, with only 5% of climate investment directed toward adaptation, signals the beginning of a shift in climate finance. By investing in agri-startups in East and West Africa, ARAF can reduce poverty, build climate resilience, and demonstrate the impact of investing in resilient agriculture. Since we started deploying capital in 2020, our team has invested in five companies operating in Kenya, Uganda, and Nigeria.”

About the Acumen Resilient Agriculture Fund (ARAF)

ARAF is an impact agriculture venture capital fund that invests in agri-startups with business models that help smallholder farmers become more resilient to climate change. ARAF is managed by Acumen Capital Partners, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Acumen. Learn more at www.ARAFund.com.

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