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Challenge Fund

WAFM-Home-innerThe Challenge Fund

The West African Food Markets Programme (WAFM) Challenge Fund provides matching grant funding and technical assistance to agribusinesses involved in cross-border trade and value chains of maize, sorghum, millet and cassava that have the potential to grow and create impact through scalable models.

The strategy is to incentivize these agribusinesses to launch pro-poor innovative projects to increase staple food production, processing and marketing and enhance cross-border trade. The Challenge Fund has identified and co-invested in innovative projects that will expand businesses as well as strengthen smallholder supplier networks, national and regional markets.

The Challenge Fund has selected through three rounds 12 agribusinesses from Ghana, Burkina-Faso and Niger, Nigeria to support. The WAFM Challenge has helped kick-start and expanded the capacity of participating firms through positive impact investment into scalable agri-business models. Of the 12 firms in the scheme, four make maize products, three cassava and two sorghum. A further two focus on seeds. Another supports warehousing and aggregation for small farmers. The Challenge Fund provides technical and financial support, and works to boost cross-border trade, strengthen small farmer networks and promote women entrepreneurs and farmers.

Results and Impact

As of  January 2018 the project achieved the following:

  • £6.9 million committed to supporting 12 agri-businesses (78% disbursed).
  • For firms and farmers in Burkina Faso (34%), Nigeria (31% ) , Ghana (25% ) and Niger (10%).
  • Committed to cereals markets: cassava (31%), seeds (25%), maize (19%), aggregation (15%), sorghum (10%)
  • More than £10 million of additional co-financing committed to these projects.
  • 226,938 smallholder farmers supported with inputs, seeds and support services from participating firms.
  • More than 1.1 million people impacted in West African farming families, with more food and higher incomes.
  • £8.7 million of staples traded so far by firms working with WAFM (about £1 million on cross-border trade).
  • £10.7 million of staples purchased from smallholder farmers by participating firms.

Brief Profiles of Participating Enterprises

Burkina Faso

  • ADS Burkina has specialized in supplying agricultural inputs (fertilizers, seeds and equipment) to Burkinabe farmers. With WAFM support, ADS is completing a maize processing factory with an upstream supply chain supported by 2,000 smallholder maize farmers and purchasing back grains to make flour for sale in Niger and Burkina Faso.
  • NAFASO is a certified seed producer with a production capacity of 5,000 metric tonnes per year, producing maize, rice, and sorghum seeds. It has sold seeds to an estimated 63,000 Burkinabe farmers as well as exporting to 14 West African countries.
  • Faso Agriculture et Intrants (FAGRI Sarl) produces certified seeds including for maize, sorghum, millet and cassava, as well asprocessing maize. FAGRI has already serviced more than 62,000 farmers, suppling goods and services and selling seeds.
  • AgroServe is a maize processor. Its new factory can process 80 tons of maize per day. It was recently opened by President Kabore of Burkina Faso and Prince Albert II of the Principality of Monaco. AgroServe supports 3,000 out-growers via a buy-back scheme.


  • Premium Food Limited (PFL) already produces fortified maize, rice, millet and sorghum and is starting up four decentralized cassava processing units, (of 20 tons capacity per day each) to feed into a new factory producing High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF).
  • Kedan Limited is already a maize trader, but is now running up a new maize processing factory of 20 tons capacity per day,which will produce fortified maize products for the Ghana and Burkina Faso markets.
  • AMYA Agro is led by a woman, has mostly women workers and works with mainly women farmers. It processes cassava and produces fortified gari, most of which is exported to Burkina Faso. Amya is building up its smallholder input supply network.


  • FCMN Niya is a Federation of Cooperatives in Niger. FCMN provides extension services, training in agronomic practices, and financial services, and is involving 6,000 of its 36,000 members in diversifying into sorghum production, with some irrigation.
  • Entreprise de Transformation Céréalière (ETC) is a cereals and legumes processing enterprise based in Niamey, Niger. The company has a woman proprietor and processes locally produced millet, sorghum, and cowpea into couscous, dégue, flours and semolina.


  • Psaltry International Limited is based in Oyo, and led by a dynamic woman entrepreneur. It operates out-grower schemeswith 2,000 farmers and an agro-processing facility making high quality cassava starch, exporting half its output to Niger.
  • AFEX Commodities Exchange Limited (AFEX) is a Public Private Partnership set up in 2014 by Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Agri-culture and Rural Development and a consortium of private investors. It provides storage for grains and a Warehouse Receipt System backed by an electronic trading platform used, so far, by more than 35,000 farmers.
  • AACE Foods processes and markets fortified maize-based foods combined with soya beans (soyamaize). AACE also produc-es herbs and spices. WAFM is supporting expansion of its maize production line. AACE works with 15,000 smallholders (between 2,000 and 4,000 will supply the expanding maize line, and WAFM is keen to promote marketing and distribution of fortified foods to domestic markets including poorer people and to food deficit areas in Nigeria and Niger.