DFC and USADF Launch New Initiative to Help Accelerate Small Businesses in Africa

Media Release


The African Small Business Catalyst, a collaboration within the U.S. government, is open for applications from innovative small businesses focused on development in select countries in Africa


WASHINGTON – U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) today jointly announced the launch of the African Small Business Catalyst (ASBC), a business accelerator for early growth-stage small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in sub-Saharan Africa. ASBC seeks to support SMEs in these countries focused in key sectors including agriculture and food security, education, healthcare, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). Special consideration will be given for companies that also tackle the climate crisis and address gender equity considerations through their work. During its first year, ASBC will accept applications from four eligible countries: Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Senegal, and Uganda.

“The African Small Business Catalyst is a landmark U.S. government collaboration designed to bring together DFC’s and USADF’s unique and complementary investment tools to boost private sector-led development in sub-Saharan Africa,” said DFC CEO Scott Nathan. “By partnering with USADF, DFC will be able to reach smaller companies in an earlier stage, accelerating development in industries key to Africa’s overall economic growth.”

“USADF has a growing list of partners such as the DFC that are expanding our resources and results in strengthening African SMEs and improving the availability and affordability of the financing they need to scale and make greater impact in their communities,” said USADF President and CEO Travis Adkins. “We’re excited to serve as the DFC’s preferred partner on the African Small Business Catalyst and to employ USADF’s tried and tested model of localized, African-led development that grows incomes, employment opportunities, and African SMEs into future trading partners for the United States and engines of economic growth for their nations.”

ASBC seeks to provide loans in amounts ranging from $100,000 to $1 million complemented by both technical assistance and grants up to $100,000. The grants, mentoring, training, and technical assistance available to clients will help companies develop their business models, build up management skills, expand market reach, and deepen their impact among underserved populations. Interested, qualified businesses are encouraged to apply through the ASBC application portal between March 4 and April 15, 2022.

The launch of ASBC was marked by a virtual signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between DFC CEO Nathan and USADF President and CEO Adkins. The MOU details the roles and responsibilities of the two agencies, sets this innovative collaboration up for success, and creates a new model for U.S. interagency cooperation in support of American development finance goals. ASBC also advances the Prosper Africa initiative to increase two-way trade and investment between African countries and the United States.


About DFC

U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) partners with the private sector to finance solutions to the most critical challenges facing the developing world today. We invest across sectors including energy, healthcare, critical infrastructure, and technology. DFC also provides financing for small businesses and women entrepreneurs in order to create jobs in emerging markets. DFC investments adhere to high standards and respect the environment, human rights, and worker rights.  

To learn more, please visit www.dfc.gov.


USADF is the U.S. government’s independent African enterprise development agency. The agency invests in African grassroots and small- and medium-sized businesses, promotes local economic development, and creates pathways to prosperity for underserved communities. Utilizing a community-led development approach, USADF provides seed capital and local project management assistance to early-stage African enterprises and entrepreneurs addressing Africa’s biggest challenges around food insecurity, insufficient energy access, and unemployment, particularly among women and youth.

To learn more, please visit www.usadf.gov or email Comms1@usadf.gov.