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African Small Business Catalyst

A venture accelerator designed to bolster early growth-stage small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)

African Small Business Catalyst (ASBC) is a business accelerator that supports SMEs with loans ranging from $500,000 to $1 million, as well as technical assistance (TA) and grants. The grants, mentoring, training, and technical assistance will help companies develop their business models, build up management skills, expand market reach, and deepen their impact among underserved populations.

Tool Snapshot
  • Partner agency: DFC, USADF, USAID

  • Provides: Financing, grants, technical assistance

  • Eligibility: Private SMEs operating in SSA within the agriculture/food security, healthcare, and WASH sectors, with special consideration given to SMEs that address climate and gender. Ideal candidates are SMEs with an innovative and impactful business model, and with ambitious, full-time management teams with a clear vision and who are driven to grow their business and deepen their social impact. Candidates do not have to be profitable, but should be revenue positive with a scalable product/service and a clear path to profitability, and actively raising funds (pre-seed to Series A).

Frequently Asked Questions

What qualifies as a “social impact mission”?

Does your business seek to offer solutions to important developmental challenges in your country/region, such as access to clean water, food, healthcare, and education? Do you seek to grow your business and increase local job opportunities? Do you intend to increase the level of female staff, especially in management?

If you can answer “yes” to any of these questions, then your business has a social impact mission.

Are you looking for SMEs with a technology focus?

ASBC likes tech-enabled business models, but the program’s focus is not on digital/IT or fintech sectors and ASBC does not require that applicants have a technology-based business.

We have been in business for several years. Can we still qualify as “early stage”?

If you have a great idea, a strong team, and strong potential impact, but have been struggling for some time to reach the next level, you may still be a good candidate for ASBC.

What makes a strong application?

  • Strong and motivated team
  • Compelling impact story, measurable impact
  • Clear understanding of market and market potential
  • Business model that is beyond proof-of-concept and enjoying growing uptake in the market
  • Strong founding shareholders and like-minded partners