Accessing small grants and loans (1): United States African Development Foundation  

Small businesses generate a lot of employment, improve local technology and produce many products and services that support larger companies and industries. Because of the important roles they play in economic growth, many governments and international organisations set up several grants and loans to support small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) in Africa.

Naira-6Applications for these grants and loans are usually free, but not many people know about these opportunities or even bother to apply for them. Some of these include: African Guarantee Fund (AGF), United States African Development Foundation (USADF), and African Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF), among many others.


The United States African Development Foundation (USADF) was established with a unique mission to by-pass layers of government inefficiencies by working directly with the most needy communities in Africa. Its programs respond to local project requests by actively engaging the local community group or enterprise in the design and implementation of the projects. This ensures that outcomes best address the real community needs.

The core operating principles of the Foundation include: Focus program activities on marginalized communities in Africa; Invest in Africans and their ideas through participatory development; Ensure projects produce long term social and economic results and; Promote African led and managed field project support. Others are: Achieve the highest levels of openness and transparency; Support and develop an equal opportunity, results driven staff that rewards hard work, dedication to the mission, and personal success; and Model high effectiveness and low overhead operations.

USADF grant is available to entrepreneurs in more than 19 African countries, including Nigeria. It provides funding to small-scale agricultural producers, small and medium-sized businesses and community-based organisations. Applications are free and very straightforward. It supports African-led development that grows community enterprises by providing seed capital and technical support. This empowers those who are least served by existing markets or assistance programs to become a part of Africa’s growth story.

The Foundation works with small holder farmers; youth; women and girls; and communities recovering from major crisis. It works by building a network of African expert support providers; identifying community enterprises with potential; providing an integrated package of support and; managing for results


USADF provides funding for the following types of groups: Agricultural Cooperatives and Small-scale Producer Groups – Organizations formed by a group of small-scale farmers, artisans, or producers to achieve some or all of the advantages of large-scale marketing and production. Community-based Oganizations (CBOs) – Organizations made up of a group of people who come together to accomplish a common goal or a set of goals tailored to meet the development needs of their community.

African Intermediary Organizations (AIOs) – Organizations that work directly with very low-income people and underserved groups. The majority of USADF’s funding agreements range between $50,000 and $250,000. Application for grant is free, there is no fee associated with grant application, and should be directed to USADF Country Representative.


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