African Wildlife Capital (AWC) is a mission-based investment company owned by African Wildlife Foundation. AWC uses impact investment capital to help develop private-sector enterprises with promising commercial and conservation potential.
After more than a decade of successful engagement in conservation enterprise work, AWF recognized the need for a new type of conservation finance. Thus, AWC offers alternative development financing in the form of structured loans to selected small- and medium-sized conservation enterprises.
This financing supports enterprises with promising business models that can help protect habitat or wildlife populations—while also benefiting the livelihoods of local Africans.
AWC is intended to take AWF’s work to a new scale and use the capacity of Africa’s burgeoning private sector to do more, in more places, for the benefit of conservation and people.
In Southern Tanzania, avocado trees have thrived for decades, but growers had no market because the skins of the fruit were too soft to transport over long distances. Meanwhile, agricultural sprawl was threatening the area’s critical montane grassland ecosystem.
Grootberg Lodge is the first lodge in Namibia to be fully owned by a community conservancy. The 850,000-acre Khoadi-Hoas Conservancy has 2,000 members with varying levels of household wealth. While the lodge enjoys a high occupancy rate and provides 30 jobs in a region where employment is hard to come by, several structural design flaws have limited its potential.
Northern Kenya supports a critical population of wild dogs, one-third of Kenya’s rhino populations, and other endangered northern savanna species, such as the Grevy’s zebra. The region’s pastoralist communities rely heavily on livestock for their livelihoods, resulting in large herds that, through drought or other catastrophic events, may just as suddenly be depleted. This model of production creates significant economic and environmental risk.
With financing from AWC, Rungwe Avocado Co. embraced agricultural innovation, grafting the high-value Hass variety onto existing avocado rootstock. Rungwe has contracted out this technique to more than 2,000 local farmers, allowing the company to bring its Hass avocado to market during a three-month supply gap that other global suppliers are unable to fill.
AWC’s investment allowed Grootberg to make improvements that would increase its economic value to the community. The updated lodge is expected to offer returns of more than four times the current annual disbursement of US$45,000. Lodge employment could also increase by more than 30%, potentially generating up to US$125,000 in wages per year. Furthermore, the investment will allow the conservancy to further pioneer community-owned and -driven conservation.
The private 90,000-acre Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a financially self-sustaining conservation area that incorporates cattle ranching and meat processing. With investment from AWC, Ol Pejeta is pioneering a commercial trading partnership with its pastoralist neighbors whereby it purchases “finished” livestock from communities and on-sells it to its established distribution channels.
In addition to providing pastoralists access to high-value livestock markets and creating a regular flow of income based on budget-based herd management, the project provides training on sound grazing management. It further creates incentives for pastoralists to tolerate wildlife, especially lions. With benefits for wildlife conservation and improvements in human livelihoods, it is a win-win for all involved.
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