US State Department, International Partners Invest in African Climate Entrepreneurs

Mike Hove

The U.S. State Department in partnership with three international organizations this week launched a climate hub in Kenya focusing on empowering and investing in African entrepreneurs whose ventures address pressing climate challenges including food security.

The Nairobi-based Coalition for Climate Entrepreneurship, CCE, hub officially opened on Thursday, the second the State Department has opened in Africa this year.

Speaking at the opening, Dorothy McAuliffe, the U.S. special representative for Global Partnerships, said the program was launched to address climate solutions.

She expressed confidence in the ventures by the African climate entrepreneurs saying their initiatives “will bring the new and sustainable solutions that are absolutely necessary to tackle the climate crisis and build resilient communities.”

In February, McAuliffe traveled to Ghana’s capital, Accra, launching the first CCE laboratory at the Academic City University College.

McAuliffe said Washington and its partners launched the CCE’s in Ghana and Kenya because “driving climate entrepreneurship is a key priority.”

The Chandaria Business Innovation and Incubation Center at Kenyatta University, SNDBX International, a Nairobi-based investment and consultancy firm, and Halcyon, a Washington-based company empowering startups, partnered with the State Department to launch the Nairobi CCE.

At the launch, Halcyon spotlighted 10 African entrepreneurs whose ventures are tackling food security and other challenges in Africa’s agricultural sector.

Daniel Barker, Halcyon’s managing director, told VOA his organization is using the CCE as a platform to increase support for African entrepreneurs.

“Our mission is to accelerate the impact on the future of business. So, what we stand to gain is furthering that mission, scaling our support of African founders who are building climate solutions, being able to disseminate those learnings to others who are then going to go and do the same,” Barker said.

“That’s the really exciting part of the partnership,” he added.

Maina Mwangi, an associate professor at Kenyatta University, said investment in African climate entrepreneurs will lead to new emerging solutions — brought by Africa’s experts — enabling ecosystems.

The CCE hubs will lead to an exchange of ideas and services allowing Africa to address its climate challenges, while profiting on the opportunities created, he added.

CCE participant, Anaporka Adazabra, founder of Farmio, a Ghana-based greenhouse farming solutions company, agreed with Mwangi.

Adazabra says it is important that African climate entrepreneurs be able trade ideas and empower local communities.

“As an entrepreneur, being able to communicate effectively the kind of impacts that you have, how your activities are directly improving upon climate is something that we need to teach more. We need to learn more,” she said.

The CCE is supporting entrepreneurs from, Kenya, Ghana and other neighboring nations, for the next 24-months. In September, a hub was opened under the same program in Vietnam.

The State Department says the next innovation hub will be opened in North Africa.