African Small Business Catalyst (ASBC)

Accelerating Impact SMEs with loans, grants and technical assistance.

The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) have launched the African Small Business Catalyst (ASBC) to bolster early growth-stage small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in sub-Saharan Africa.

ASBC is a business accelerator that supports SMEs with loans ranging from USD$100,000 to USD$1 million and offers technical assistance (TA) and grants up to USD$100,000. ASBC targets SMEs in sub-Saharan African countries within the agriculture, food security, healthcare, and education sectors, as well as water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) with special consideration to SMEs that tackle the climate crisis and address gender equity considerations through their work.

ASBC assists its partners with capital/grants, mentoring, training, and TA to help them develop their business models, strengthen their management skills, expand their market reach, and deepen their impact.

What can ASBC offer my business?

  • Debt investments up to USD$1 million
  • Grant capital up to USD$100,000
  • Intensive mentoring and training programs
  • Targeted technical assistance (e.g., technology)
  • Network of impact investors
  • Impact first, catalytic partner (no dilution or claims on IP)

What regions and sectors does ASBC target?

ASBC targets SMEs in sub-Saharan African countries within the agriculture & food security, education, healthcare, and water, sanitation, hygiene (WASH) sectors. Special consideration will be given to SMEs that address climate and gender.

Who does ASBC look for in partner SMEs?

ASBC seeks to partner with for-profit businesses that are registered locally and majority African-owned. Ambitious, full-time management teams with a clear vision and that are driven to grow their business and deepen their social impact are ideal candidates. Businesses must have at least two years of operations and be revenue positive with a scalable product/service.

What are the investment terms*?

  • Simple agreements
  • No security
  • Fixed interest rates
  • Tenors from 1-3 years
  • Shorter-term bridge loans possible
  • Balloon/bullet repayments
  • Support for currency risk (hedging instruments)
  • Limited covenants
  • Typical turnaround 3-4 months, if you are shortlisted

How does this compare to other venture capital (VC) investors?

Unlike most VCs, ASBC provides only debt capital. This means ASBC does not take shares or negotiate for any future equity stake in your business and will not dilute the founder’s ownership. ASBC will not make any claims on your intellectual property and will work in cooperation with other investors to help realize the growth and success of your business.

How does your accelerator program work?

In addition to investment capital, ASBC will provide grants up to USD$100,000 (total per SME).

Successful applicants will also be paired with one of our mentoring and management training partners for a 6–12-month intensive program.

A technical assistance (TA) plan will be drawn-up and specific support designed around your needs and arranged with experts/consultants.

* The terms described herein are subject to approval by DFC management and do not indicate an agreement or commitment by DFC to provide support for a transaction on these or any other terms.


April 15, 2022
Organizer United States African Development Foundation
Website Visit website
Targets Sub-Saharan Africa
Agribusiness, Agritech, EdTech, Education, Food and beverage, Food production, Healthcare, HealthTech, Water, sanitation and hygiene