Hugh Scott: Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund Launches New South Sudan Funding Window

 

Photo: Arne Hoel / World Bank

By Hugh Scott, Director, Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund

 

‘South Sudan: Wide open for Business’ read a recent headline on the Africa Business magazine. Juba and indeed South Sudan is bustling with activity. Driving through the capital city and to areas as far as Rock City, one can feel the developing vibrant business environment. The overwhelming response at the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund launch in South Sudan is testimony to this. The AECF South Sudan Competition, officially launched at the Juba Regency hotel on 27th October, saw a room filled to capacity with keen investors.

 

The competition funded by the UK Government’s aid programme (UKAid) through its department for International Development (DFID) seeks to promote risk taking and support innovative business ideas in agribusiness that combine commercial viability with development impact in South Sudan. AECF has previously awarded funding to SABMiller/South Sudan Breweries Limited (SSBL) to improve the livelihoods of small farmers in Southern Sudan by assisting the local brewery develop a local supply chain for Cassava for a new cassava beer.

 

The Hon. Betty Acan Ogwaro, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, with Mark Mallalieu, head of DFID, South Sudan 

 

The guest of honor at the launch event, the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Betty Acan Ogwaro, lauded the AECF for creating an opportunity for South Sudan to develop its agricultural sector. The Minister described the AECF as an innovative way of partnering with the private sector to create markets for the poor and stimulate growth.

 

South Sudan currently imports most of its needs from neighboring countries despite having large tracts of farming land with good natural resources for grains and cash crops. There is also immense potential along the agribusiness value chain in sectors such as processing, storage, and transportation of agricultural goods. The honorable minister also acknowledged the contribution of agriculture to improving food security whilst creating employment.

 

Mark Mallalieu, Head of DFID South Sudan, reiterated the honorable minister’s statement that investing in agribusiness will create jobs along the value chain. He went on to add that “Expanding South Sudan’s economy through investment in agriculture will be a good strategy for moving away from a single dependency on oil.”  

 

He was not alone in his call for investments in South Sudan. Other participants included:

  • Mr. Jürgen Koch, GIZ South Sudan, Project Manager Food Security and Agricultural Development.
  • Mr. Ulf Samuelsson, Embassy of Sweden Office in Juba
  • Mr.Deng Mading Mijak, Southern Sudan Beverages Limited (SAB Miller) Corporate Affairs Director
  • Mr. Simon Akuei Deng, Secretary General, South Sudan Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture
  • Sirma Lydia, Events co-ordinator South Sudan Business Club among others.

 

Several interesting questions arose from the audience after the presentation. FARM Africa’s Godfrey Ouna, based in Juba, will be at hand to help with the applications. The event also received a lot of attention from the local media.  We are already receiving applications. Judging from the overwhelming response at the launch we expect much more before the close of the competition on 15th December 2011.

 

Editor's Note:
The AECF is launching three new competitions to encourage business innovation and investment in:
  • agribusiness development across Sub Saharan Africa
  • agribusiness development, specifically focusing on South Sudan
  • renewable energy and adaptation to help small farmers in East Africa to adapt to climate change

African Enterprise Challenge Fund and Business Action for Africa are hosting an event to promote these competitions in London on 10th November between 8.00am – 9.30am.  If you are a business and interested in learning more about opportunities to partner with AECF, click here to find out more and to apply for a place.

Comment by TANGEM ELVIS PAUL NFOR on November 2, 2011 at 11:17

This is great, S. Sudan needs as much support as possible, and enterprise and business development is the right way to go. I will suggest a study to be undertaken on doing business in Southern Sudan. Such a document like that of other countries in existent should further provide contacts and guidelines, it will be very helpful for those interested in SS, but have no source of info.

Comment by Sudhir Patel on November 13, 2011 at 15:52

South Sudan went through 50 years of war during which agricultural cultivation was impossible, although the land is extremely large and fertile with possibilities of becoming the food basket for the whole of Africa.

Government and NGO efforts to create jobs and improve the lives of small scale farmers in rural areas need to  be supplemented by businesses that will profit handsomely and at the same time help to transform agricultural activities and move the country away from entirely depending on oil income.

We are happy to assist and  guide potential investors and also discuss partnerships in agri-business.

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