The Austrian Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF) and OeEB announce the extension of the African-Austrian SME Investment Facility (AAIF). Through the AAIF, the BMF provides a total of EUR 30 million for small and medium-sized enterprises from Austria or the European Union seeking to invest in Africa. OeEB was again commissioned with the implementation.

The African-Austrian SME Investment Facility (AAIF) was launched on the occasion of the "High-Level Forum Africa-Europe" in December 2018 and started in 2019 with EUR 10 million. The aim of the instrument is to support companies - primarily SMEs - from Austria or the European Union in setting up businesses or developing projects in Africa in order to create local jobs and enable sustainable development. 

Since then, AAIF funds have provided equity or mezzanine capital to five Austrian companies in the fields of renewable energy, agricultural processing and industrial production. Due to the success of the instrument so far and the great interest on the part of Austrian companies, the investment facility is now being extended for another three years and increased by EUR 20 million. In addition to investments in Africa, projects in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) worldwide can now also be supported. 

"With transaction sizes of up to EUR 3 million per project, the AAIF closes a financing gap between the Austrian Development Agency's business partnerships and OeEB's larger equity and financing projects. In this way, we want to continue to provide targeted support to local small and medium-sized enterprises in setting up and expanding activities in Africa," says Harald Waiglein, Head of the Department for Economic Policy, Financial Markets and Tariffs at the Ministry of Finance. The funds are provided within the framework of the Export Guarantees Act.

Focus on Africa

In its strategy, OeEB has set itself the goal of expanding its activities in Africa and the world's least developed countries. "We are therefore very pleased to have an additional instrument for private sector development in Africa in the form of the AAIF, with which we can also target local small and medium-sized enterprises. The African continent offers numerous opportunities for Austrian companies. We see particularly high interest and potential in the areas of renewable energy, environmental technology, infrastructure and the manufacturing industry," explains Michael Wancata, OeEB Board Member responsible for equity investments. 

If necessary, OeEB can provide additional technical assistance funds for project support. "This enables us to support the companies financed through the AAIF in areas such as environmental and social risk management, as well as technical, legal and business management issues, in order to build know-how and capacity and mitigate risks," adds OeEB Board Member Sabine Gaber.