The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund Nkwanzi Scaling Women SMEs Project.

Application Deadline:    6th April 2023

Nkwanzi Scaling Women SMEs Project (SWSP) is an investment readiness programme that aims to unlock the potential of women-led enterprises through capacity building on fundraising by improving their potential to raise commercial capital. The programme offers WSME centered mentorship, coaching, investment readiness support and facilitates linkages to financial institutions in the selected countries across Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Nkwanzi project aims to support 400 WSMEs through self-directed learning on the AECF Academy platform, one-on-one mentorship and coaching, business assessment for investment readiness, and facilitation of investments from financial institutions. The project will be implemented across nine countries – Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The project is co-funded by the African Development Bank as part of Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA), a pan-African initiative to bridge the US$ 42 billion financing gap facing women in Africa

Geographical Focus

  • Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Focus Areas:

  • The programme targets Women SMES operating in these sectors; Agribusiness, Renewable Energy, Financial Services, Education, Water & Sanitation, Tech-driven Businesses and Health Care.

Eligibility Requirements

The eligibility criteria for the Nkwanzi Program are listed as follows:

  • Woman-led businesses in the 9 focus countries experiencing challenges in accessing finance
  • The main participant and applicant must be the CEO, Managing Director, Owner, or Founder of the business and must be an active participant in the program.
  • Generated annual revenue of more than US$ 50,000 in the last or current financial year.
  • Operational for at least 2 years.
  • Willing to work online – i.e., Must have a smartphone/laptop with internet connection to access online tools, courses and online community.
  • Willing to share performance/financial data as part of finance linkage.

Additional requirements 

  • Focus countries; Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
  • Sectors of focus; Agribusiness, Renewable Energy, Financial services, Education, Water & Sanitation, Tech-driven businesses, Health care.
  • Businesses that directly impact or work with women.
  • Special consideration will be given to youth, under the age of 35 years.


  • Address barriers to accessing finance with practical tools. Learn how to implement critical business practices that will plug gaps impeding the ability to access finance
  • Investment readiness support. Receive support in the identification of, access to and engagement with potential and relevant investors
  • Access to Finance. Businesses that complete the learning journey will be linked to relevant financial providers.
  • Networking and Peer Learning. Connect and benefit from peer-to-peer learning and networking with like-minded entrepreneurs across Africa.
  • Meet-up events & investor connection. Up to three in-person meet-up events with fellow enterprises and investors/ financial institutions.

For More Information:

Visit the Official Webpage of the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund Nkwanzi Scaling Women SMEs Project


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