CoopAfrica is set up to be a demand-driven programme, giving the national cooperative movements influence on how to invest the funds available. Cooperatives, cooperative apex organisations and other cooperative support agencies from the project countries can apply for a grant from the CoopAfrica Challenge Fund. Twice a year CoopAfrica publishes in national newspapers, on the radio and on the website a call for proposals for proposals of USD 20,000 to USD 50,000. Smaller projects below the threshold of USD 20,000 can apply for funds throughout the year.
Since its inception in June 2008, the COOPAfrica Challenge Fund has funded about 70 projects in Eastern and Southern Africa.
What is a challenge fund?
A challenge fund is a financing mechanism to allocate funds. Instead of writing and funding projects written by the organization itself, the programme asks for proposals from organizations and institutions working in the targeted field, in this case cooperatives. Challenge funds are always set up to meet specific objectives – such as extending financial services to poor people. Applications are assessed against transparent criteria, and successful bidders must match a certain percentage of the grant. A Selection Committee then awards grants to those projects that best meet the aims of the objectives of the Challenge Fund.
A key feature of the challenge fund mechanism is the sense of competition that is created among the organizations involved and the way their ideas seed the debate on key development issues.
COOPAfrica held fifth calls for proposals in 8 countries under this facility: the first in June 2008, the second in November 2008, the third in May 2009, the fourth in September 2010, and the fifth in March 2011. Through the calls, more than 600 applications were submitted and over 60 organizations have already been selected for COOPAfrica grants, for a total funding of approximately US$ 3,000,000.
Please see the list of projects selected for funding so far on the right-hand side of the page.