Cape Town-based Africa Trust Group (ATG) has announced the receipt of a R4.2-million grant from the Shell Foundation.
The foundation, founded by Shell in 2000 and based in the UK, helps create and scale business solutions to enhance access to energy and support low-income communities. This grant is part of the CASEE partnership between Shell Foundation and the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
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The Empress Fund plans to raise R50-million in blended finance over the next year
The trust has utilised the funding as a learning grant for ATG’s Empress Fund – an innovative financing arm that invests in early-stage women-owned agriculture-, energy- and climate-based businesses in Africa.
The Empress Fund
The Empress Fund, launched in July 2020, is an angel syndicate investment fund that provides innovative financing vehicles fit for purpose and context to women entrepreneurs in Africa. There is an approximated $3-trillion global funding gap for startups that will not meet venture capital requirements or have sufficient collateral to meet traditional lending requirements.
Women entrepreneurs are worst affected. The fund will create early-stage investment opportunities to bridge the gap, tackling the dearth of opportunities available to African women entrepreneurs. The Empress Fund plans to raise R50-million in blended finance over the next year to address this. It offers agile solutions better suited to the current market – drawdown accounts, non-asset backed lending and non-dilutive revenue-based financing.
“This partnership celebrates our mutual vision to support sustainable projects that have the power to drive real change in Africa,” said Lelemba Phiri, Principal at ATG. “The agriculture and energy sectors are particularly exciting spaces for alternative financing. We are seeing more and more women innovating and uplifting their communities in these sectors but still attracting less funding and so we’re proud to be able to give them the tools and funding they need to scale,” she concluded.
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Featured image: Africa Trust Group Principal, Lelemba Phiri (Supplied)