Bridging the finance gap and unlocking the growth and impact potential of agricultural SMEs in Africa.


Aceli Africa is built to incentivize incremental lending to the least served and most impactful segments of the market. It is open to any lender in the marketplace that is committed to growing its agricultural SME portfolio and participating in Aceli’s financial benchmarking process. Financial incentives offered by Aceli Africa to lenders are informed by data on the economics of agri-SME lending and designed to create a more sustainable and competitive marketplace.

We analyzed



Supplying data for


Agri-SME loans



US Dollars


To create attractive “pull” mechanisms for lenders to meet the financing needs of agricultural SMEs, risk and return constraints must be addressed to overcome decades of inertia. Aceli’s model seeks to bridge the gap between the supply and demand of capital for agricultural SMEs in three key ways:

Portfolio first loss

Aceli will incentivize lenders to serve market segments that are higher risk but generate substantial impact. For each qualifying loan ranging from $25k-$1.5m, Aceli will deposit 2-8% of the loan value into a reserve account that is available to cover the first losses across the lender’s portfolio of qualifying loans. Loans to borrowers that meet criteria related to gender inclusion, food security and nutrition, and/or climate resilience will be rewarded with greater financial incentives to motivate lenders to serve these high-impact enterprises.

Origination incentive

Smaller loans to new borrowers tend to be unprofitable for lenders even when they repay given the high costs of serving agricultural SMEs located in remote areas and operating in less formal value chains. To mobilize increased lending for these businesses, Aceli will offer origination incentives that compensate lenders for the lower revenues and higher operating costs on loans ranging from $25k-$500k. As with portfolio first-loss coverage, origination incentives will be higher for loans to new borrowers and those that meet impact standards related to gender inclusion, food security and nutrition, and climate resilience.

Technical assistance for agricultural SMEs

The financial incentives offered by Aceli will not be enough to grow the market if agricultural SMEs lack the business and financial management capacity to qualify for and manage financing. To expand the addressable demand, Aceli facilitates technical assistance (TA) at both the pre- and post-investment stages. TA is offered in partnership with local service providers and based on a cost-share model with each enterprise. A combination of standardized, online tools and tailored, in-person approaches is used to optimize quality and cost of TA with priority given to SMEs that demonstrate growth and impact potential.

Data & learning 

In addition to mobilizing capital and generating direct impact on farmer livelihoods and food systems, Aceli Africa generates learning to inform how similar approaches can be improved and scaled for other sectors. On-going data collection by Aceli and independent evaluation by our partners will assess: the effects of financial incentives on lending activity; the impact of access to finance on credit-constrained businesses; and the flow-through benefits for farmer and worker livelihoods. Ultimately, we seek to document the value generated by these approaches relative to the costs, and to partner with policymakers and other stakeholders to strengthen the enabling environment for a thriving finance market that unlocks the growth and impact potential of agricultural SMEs across the continent.