Last Sunday the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries hosted Round 2 of Afghan Business Innovation Fund (ABIF) to member companies. The ABIF is a facility of the Department for International Development (DFID), which disburses grants among innovative companies ranging from 100,000 to 1,000.000 US-Dollar every six months. The ACCI supports the fund to market the grants through networks and business relations. The presentation held last Sunday was the first joint informational event between the ACCI and the ABIF, which more than 100 leading business people, chamber representatives and officials form ABIF attended.
Mr. Mohammad Qurban Haqjo, the CEO of ACCI, highlighted the importance of private sector led investment in Afghanistan's development and welcomed the continuing supports of DFID. “For Afghan investors the lack of financial sources is main challenge in starting and doing business. This problem is especially faced by the agricultural and industrial sector.” Therefore, the ABIF could close a gap in financing innovative business projects, Mr. Haqjo said.
The ABIF Fund Manager, Mr. James Blewett, emphasized that the financial support will be granted to those companies which business proposals are promising in regard to income and job creation. The grants will support companies in realizing innovative business plans. In this regard, Mr. Blewett said that the grant will only serve as a partial financing.
During the informational event the ABIF team answered a series of questions from the media and from potential applicants. One of the successful applicants of the first round also held a presentation on his experiences with ABIF and how the grant supported his business activities. At the first round, seven companies were chosen out of 300 applications which will receive up to 2.5 million US-Dollar.
Among the company representatives was Mr. Abdul Aziz Zadran who is interested to apply for a grant. The entrepreneur believes that the project will support the applicants to formalize their organizational structure and business activities. The owner of Omid Bahar Company, Mr. Mostafa Sadiq has already prepared the application for his company. He is planning to purchase modern equipment to produce quality juices. Mr. Sadiq explained that he already got access to various financial sources, but these are not enough to cover the investments. Thus, he prepared an innovative proposal which he submitted to ABIF. ‘
How to apply ABIF:
ABIF is funded in $ 13 million capital by Department for International Development of UK (DFID). For proposals that are funded, grants will be disbursed in amounts that range from USD $ 100,000 to $ 1,000.000 every six months. The evaluation of the grants will be based on investment risk especially in volatile provinces, the level of innovation, assumption of profitability, and number of potential beneficiaries from the implementation of the business idea.
ABIF will then evaluate the short version of proposals and if deemed worthy of further consideration, firms will be asked to send a more detailed version. All proposals will be evaluated and prioritized by the Administrative and Technical Teams of both ABIF and DFID.