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Village Capital Partners with Norad to Strengthen the Climate Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Africa

Nairobi, Kenya, 30 April 2024Village Capital (VilCap) and Norad - the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, have partnered to launch Empowering Sustainable Entrepreneurship Africa, a transformative ecosystem-building Africa program aimed at strengthening the capacity and impact of Entrepreneur Support Organizations (ESOs) and climate-focused early-stage startups in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania.

The initiative will adopt a dual-track approach. Firstly, it will equip community-led ESOs with the technical expertise and resources necessary to foster sustainable growth within their organizations. This approach will enhance their capacity to effectively support the unique needs of sustainability ventures in the region and, as a result, amplify their impact. Secondly, the program will directly support climate-focused ventures in the priority countries and cultivate a long-term pipeline of high-growth, investable startups advancing solutions in critical areas such as the blue economy, climate adaptation, food security, and renewable energy.

Environment and climate concerns are at the core of Norad’s work, in line with the agency’s goal to promote global and Norwegian environmental goals for climate, biodiversity, and other environmental issues. These concerns serve as a guiding principle when developing new partnerships and initiatives such as the Empowering Sustainable Entrepreneurship Africa initiative. 

“We are excited to partner with Village Capital on Empowering Sustainable Entrepreneurship Africa. Entrepreneurs and startups with innovative ideas and services have an important role to play in contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals. Today such actors often lack access to financing and technical support due to a number of barriers. We hope that by strengthening the entrepreneurial ecosystem through Entrepreneur Support Organizations, some of these barriers will be overcome. This partnership is also exciting for us in that it is multi-sectoral, working on blue economy, renewable energy, food security, and climate adaptation, to deliver the best possible total contribution to innovation and entrepreneurship in Africa,” said Per Fredrik Ilsaas Pharo, Director of Climate and Environment, Norad. 

“ESOs play a crucial role in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, serving as the first line of support for entrepreneurs, acting as both trainer and convener of essential networks such as investors and talent, especially in emerging ecosystems,” shares Rachel Crawford, who leads Special Projects at Village Capital. “However, these same ESOs typically operate as the startups they support and often lack the final piece of the puzzle – capital to deploy directly to startups. Village Capital aims to address each of these three needs through our unique initiative design by leveraging ecosystem development, enterprise support, and catalytic capital. Importantly, not only does Village Capital’s initiative align well with Norad’s identified priorities, but it also stands out compared to other regional projects. It builds off Village Capital’s extensive impact within sub-Saharan Africa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem over the past 11 years, having supported over 200 entrepreneurs who have gone on to raise over USD 230M in capital to scale their impact businesses and collaborated with over 70 local ESOs who have reached over 3,000 entrepreneurs.”

Entrepreneurial ecosystems remain underfunded, fragmented, and lack the technical resources

to support the unique needs of entrepreneurs in the region effectively. Although funding for climate-focused entrepreneurs has grown recently, immense capital and training shortfalls persist in Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania. These gaps must be greatly improved to achieve meaningful advancements in the blue economy, climate adaptation, food security, and renewable energy. This program aims to address these needs by catalyzing large-scale ecosystem growth that will power long-term innovation and sustainable economic development.

To learn more about the program and explore opportunities for engagement as an ESO, Village Capital will run an information session specifically tailored for ESOs in the targeted countries. The session will provide detailed insights into the program and its eligibility criteria. 

For more information about the program and to express your interest in participating in the information session, reach out to Ahmed Fadl, Program Manager at Village Capital (ahmed.fadl@vilcap.com). 

For media inquiries, reach out to Eva Waweru at Village Capital (eva.waweru@vilcap.com).

About Village Capital 

Village Capital is reinventing the system to back the entrepreneurs of the future. Known for its groundbreaking approaches to supporting founders who are building solutions to emergent social, economic, and environmental challenges, VilCap unlocks critical social and financial capital for early-stage companies to maximize business and impact growth.

Village Capital has operated in sub-Saharan Africa since 2012 by running over 14 accelerator programs in serving entrepreneurs in 27 countries in the region. VilCap has supported more than 170 locally-based startups and close to 50 Entrepreneur Support Organizations (ESO) working in sectors such as financial health, hardware, sustainability, and the future of work. Learn more at www.vilcap.com and follow @villagecapital. 

About Norad

Norad is the Norwegian agency for development cooperation. We work for the world to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Norad is a professional body under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Together with our partners and on behalf of Norway, Norad strives for a greener future in a world without poverty. Human rights must be respected, and none left out. By way of knowledge and cooperation, we ensure that the funds of Norwegian development aid contribute to global development.