Learn more

Unlocking Growth, Building Business Resilience

The Sudan SME Catalyser program, launched by the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund AECF in partnership with 249Startups, aims to empower small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Sudan, backed by an initial €12.5 million from the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) via KfW.

The program is dedicated to assisting SMEs in Sudan that are relocating from conflict-affected regions to more stable areas within the country. SMEs constitute a vital segment of Sudan’s economy, yet many have faced significant setbacks including capital losses, disrupted markets, and supply chain interruptions. Despite these challenges, SMEs have displayed remarkable resilience, presenting an opportunity to address the current crisis by enhancing the availability of essential goods and services while generating income and employment opportunities for low-income households.

Responding to the Crisis

Through this program, eligible companies will gain access to catalytic funding and tailored business     advisory services provided by experts to facilitate the re-establishment of production and processing     activities, streamline business operations, and explore new markets and supply sources. In addition to       financial assistance, AECF & 249Startups will also be providing technical assistance to startups to help       them navigate challenges and optimize their operations.

Who can apply?

⁃ Existing Sudanese businesses that have been operational for at least two years
⁃ Businesses with registration and a demonstrated track record of success in Sudan.
⁃ Sudanese entrepreneurs are operating and willing to establish or expand their businesses in Sudan eastern areas:

1- Red Sea
2- Kassala
3- Al Gadarif

Key Growth Industries

The program focuses on SMEs in critical development sectors:

  • Agribusiness: Supporting food security and access to essential agriculture and food items.
  • Renewable Energy: Encouraging sustainable energy solutions.
  • Digital & ICT Information and Communication Technology: Facilitating communication and information sharing within Sudan.

What are Startups Ecosystems?

A startup ecosystem is formed by people, startups in their various stages, and various types of organizations in a location (physical and/or virtual), interacting as a system to create new startup companies Before taking a deep dive into...

How To Market Your Business

  As an entrepreneur and a business owner, in order to reach your audience, you must create a marketing strategy so that you can show your brand, reach your audience, and create long-lasting and ever-present relationships with your...

Hiring the Right team for your startups

Hiring the Right team for your startups The success of any business depends on the team. If the team is good, then the business will flourish If the team is bad, it will cause the business to fail therefore, one of the most important...

Skills you need to be a successful entrepreneur

Skills you need to be a successful entrepreneur Given the current economic challenges facing many countries across the globe, the notion of engendering greater entrepreneurial activity has become a prominent goal for many national...

All you need to know about social enterprise

is All you need to know about social enterprise you must have heard a lot about social enterprises and wonder what they are and what they do in this blog post we share everything about social enterprises just keep reading. What is social...

Sudan Re-Connect To Global Economy Panel

In the context of highlighting the efforts made in Sudan to Keep pace with the world economy, we were pleased with the webinar that housed a group of experts and specialists. The webinar discussed the importance of increasing the number...

Southeast Asia tech talent compensation

  A report released by  “Southeast Asia tech talent compensation”  highlights the most trending and most competitive tech skills and corresponding salaries. A report released by  “Southeast Asia tech talent compensation” highlights the...

15 helpful tools for your start-up business

It can be a little bit intimidating to run a start-up because there are a lot of tasks to do with little to no workforce. Luckily, there are plenty of tools out there to help entrepreneurs and small business owners in successfully running...

Sudan’s Monjid raises six-figures seed investment for its roadside assistance platform

Sudan’s Monjid raises six-figures seed investment for its roadside assistance platform Sudan-based car maintenance & roadside assistance Startup Monjid has raised six-figure (USD) investment in a seed funding round, it was announced...

Farmers financial inclusion

Financial inclusion is the availability and equality of opportunities to access financial services. The biggest challenge that faces farmers is financing related problems, especially in the current economic crisis, Sudan is going through....
How can the SudanSMECatalyser help your business?

Get funds and technical support (250,000 – 750,000 EUR) to grow in Agribusiness, Renewable energy, or ICT & Digital solutions.

Get the capital you need to:

– Recover and expand operations

– Increase working capital

– Scale your business

– Create jobs

– Make a positive impact

The program is endowed with an initial EUR 12.5 million facility with the first phase set to be implemented over a period of eighteen   months. It is designed to empower small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in key development sectors of agribusiness, renewable   energy, and information technology solutions by providing appropriate catalytic investment grants financing through a context-specific   challenge fund model. The program aims to increase employment, incomes, and the availability of services and products for low-   income households in Sudan.


For this component of investment financing, which considers only the first phase of €12.5m, AECF with 249Startups Startups will target   two main groups, which will operate through a single competition on a rolling basis as detailed below:

 Emergency Working Capital Window (SBW)

 AECF proposes to use this Funding Window as an emergency   financing   initiative to support at least 60 small businesses with   investment grants   of between €50,000-€250,000 (average of   €100,000) using a milestone-   based funding approach. The objective   of these grants will be to provide   much needed capital to small   businesses who have not been able to   access formal sources of   capital in the past and incentivize them to   relocate, rebuild and scale-   up operations to bring private sector benefits   to their communities.

 Growing Business Window (GBW)

 This Funding Window will target existing growing businesses that   require   larger sums of money for investment in new operational   capital as well   as working capital to scale or re-build existing   enterprises with the   potential for significant job creation or reshaping   key sectors of the   economy. The Growing Businesses Window will be     a milestone-based   financing and will offer at least ten grants ranging   between €250,000-   €750,000 (average of €400,000) based on the size   of the businesses   (revenues and employees), their ability to absorb   funds, scale of   proposed project and validated impact potential.



1- What is the Sudan Catalyst Program?

The Sudan SME Catalyser is a €12.5 million initiative funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) via KfW.

The programme seeks to support SMEs in Sudan relocating from conflict areas to more stable parts of the country. SMEs form a dynamic and independent part of the economy in Sudan, yet many have suffered losses of capital, markets, and sources of supplies.

Amid these challenges, SMEs have demonstrated to be a remarkable source of resilience. They offer the potential to address the current crisis by improving the availability of much-needed products and services and providing income and employment to low-income households


2- What is the program's focus?

  • Market Aggregators: Platforms that provide reliable and new market opportunities, and economic development.
  • Agricultural, Renewable Processing and Manufacturing Companies: Creating economic opportunities by generating employment opportunities for product/service providers along the value chain.
  • Innovative Digital Solutions Providers in Agriculture and Renewable Energy.
  • Production and Distribution Models that Support Local Entrepreneurship and SME Growth within the Targeted Value Chains:
    • Business Models that Provide Incentives for Rural Areas to Access Improved Input Use and Adoption, Including Renewable Resources: Energy management practices, seeds, fertilizers, soil and water, post-harvest handling, and technology improvements in areas such as irrigation, conservation agriculture, integrated forest management practices, etc.
    • Business Models that Address Climate-Smart Technologies, Services, and Practices at the Manufacturing and Farm Levels: For example, solar energy technology, biogas, chemical-free grain storage, etc. Proposed solutions should, wherever possible, take a value chain approach to demonstrate their relevance to the broader sector.


3- What are the program eligibility criteria and opportunities for other companies?

Companies in the field of Agriculture, Renewable energy business chain, ICT & Commutations that have legal registration and documentation and a track record of continuous operation for more than two years operating in the targeted geographical area or have the ability to relocate and expand their operations to the eastern states of Sudan Al-Qadarif, Kassala, and the Red Sea. Other areas will be added later based on the program's strategy and available opportunities.


4- What is the form of support provided by the program?

The support provided includes a package of:

  • Incentive funding: Non-repayable incentive funding based on the level of business and its prepared plans.The funding ranges from 50,000 euros to 750,000 euros.
  • Targeted technical assistance: Provision of targeted technical assistance on business development services as required by the beneficiaries.
  • Access to further financing: Access to further financing through investment advisory services and investment facilitation support in later stages from financial institutions, individual investors, and venture capitalists.


5- How will the program handle the lack or damage of required documentation due to the war?

The program is flexible in dealing with applications submitted, based on an assessment of the information provided by companies and business owners through verification procedures carried out by the program's field teams. Therefore, the evaluation process differs from company to company. Legal proof may be proof of a business name, a company registration document, or an official commercial license, among others.


6- What are the categories through which support and services can be obtained from the program?

There are two main categories through which support is provided:

  • Emergency Working Capital Window: This category utilizes emergency technical and financial support for SMEs and aims to support 60 companies with investments ranging from 50,000 euros to 250,000 euros using phased funding methods. This window also aims to provide the financing that SMEs need that typically do not find ways to access financing from other sources and also to encourage them to re-establish and transfer their businesses, rebuild and develop them to provide services to their communities in Sudan.
  • Growing or Evolving Businesses Window: This window targets existing and ongoing service-oriented companies that are looking for larger investment amounts to expand or rebuild the company for large job opportunities or to reshape one of the main sectors of the economy. Funding amounts in this window range from 250,000 euros to 750,000 euros and depend on the size of the business, revenue, business plan, and expansion to achieve the expected impacts.


7- Is the funding refundable?

The Sudan Catalyst Program is non-refundable incentive funding, but the funding is subject to incentive funding procedures based on risk sharing by providing a contribution in certain proportions of the requested funding to guarantee commitment and prove seriousness, where between 25-10 percent of the total amount that is applied for and can be contributed by providing it in cash or in kind. The grant is a non-refundable grant unless the basic conditions of the funding agreement and obligations in terms of reporting the required reports and adhering to the agreed-upon expenditure are breached. The form of funding is in stages linked to objectives within the proposed work plan through the participants.


8- What is the return on the program?

Basically, the program does not require a return or shares or assets from the projects that receive incentive funding, but the program aims to create a positive impact and improve the development opportunities of the targeted productive sectors and create employment opportunities and positive impact and contribute to mitigating the effects of conflict on communities, and improving the infrastructure for the agriculture and renewable energy sectors in Sudan. It also aims to support businesses and help them maintain continuity and development.


9- What is the program applying process?

In order for private sector companies to be eligible for technical support and later financing, they must meet the following criteria:

  • Apply for a grant within the specified scope.
  • Be legally registered and physically located in Sudan or intend to return to Sudan to continue the project.
  • Its operating period is not less than two years, with the ability to provide the necessary work permits.
  • Pass the - Know Your Customer (KYC) test of AMT/CFT, AECF (Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Terrorist Financing), (PEP and IDD due diligence on integrity), based on the information provided as part of the application.
  • Be compliant with the basic laws and regulations of the country, including tax compliance laws.
  • Commit to international human rights, labor standards, and environmental management laws.
  • Not be involved in any act of corruption. AECF requires that the applicant, including its employees, contractors and suppliers (do not engage in bidding for third parties, or seek or accept or promise from third parties themselves or any other party any gift or reward or compensation or benefit of any kind that is interpreted as an illegal or corrupt practice.
  • Not be associated with activities prohibited by the Government of Sudan, terrorism, money laundering, or the list of prohibiting trade with certain companies or from the International Finance Corporation, the United States Agency for International Development, the United Nations, the European Union, and any other networks, and the United Nations Security Council resolutions issued under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations. Screening will be conducted for all applicants and related parties and the EU sanctions list, etc.
  • Not be a representative of a government or quasi-governmental agency of any kind. This includes the government, institutions or companies owned or partly owned by the government or quasi-governmental entities that have large ownership or commercial ties with the government or quasi-governmental entities. Any subsequent identification of these links will result in the immediate termination of the grant agreement.


10- What kind of technical support does the program provide?

The program provides advisory solutions starting from assistance in the application process and consultations in the form of opportunities that can be worked within and targeted, in addition to specialized technical support from specialized experts in the different financing stages. Technical support is in two stages:

  • Phase 1: Technical support after the initial selection within the initial list and before presentation to the selection and financing committees, where technical support is provided to project owners in reviewing the business plan, identifying self-financing methods, disbursement directions, and reviewing the application submitted to the financing committee, which makes a decision on whether or not to provide financial and technical support to the participants. The financing application may also be rejected in order to provide other technical support in order to better prepare the participants, then they can submit in the next cycle in a better way.
  • Phase 2: After financing some participants and determining the financial amounts that will be provided to them, continuous technical support is provided throughout the financing period. Technical support provides follow-up on the growth of companies and helps in consultations and services in the various aspects of the project, from marketing, to financing, to accounting, human resources, strategies, sales and legal aspects.