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2024 Archipelagos Program for African SMEs

2024 Archipelagos Program for African SMEs

Country: Africa
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2024 Archipelagos Program for African SMEs

Archipelagos is a multi-year international cooperation program developed by Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, the Italian Financial Institution for International Development Cooperation, with the support of the European Commission.

Through this call of application, Up to 1000+ SMEs will be selected across the African continent to join a dedicated capacity building Program designed to strengthen their capabilities and increase their readiness for capital markets. The selected SMEs will embark on a tailored learning journey through the Archipelagos digital platform, where they will have access to training, mentoring, and networking opportunities.

At the end of this Program, the most promising SMEs will receive specialized support for raising funds in the capital markets through innovative debt instruments, supported by a guarantee facility from the European Commission.

Objective of Archipelagos Program

The Archipelagos Program pursues 3 overarching objectives:

  • Supporting the growth of African SMEs through the Archipelagos capacity-building Program with tailored training, mentoring, and networking, powered by a dedicated digital platform.
  • Facilitating SMEs access to capital markets through the collaboration with local stock exchanges and a dedicated guarantee facility from the European Commission for the structuring of innovative financial instruments.
  • Creating a more favorable ecosystem for SMEs through the dialogue with local policy makers and institutions, and the engagement of key stakeholders.


1.Capacity building Program

  • CDP and the European Commission, through the project Archipelagos, recognize the importance of supporting the growth and development of African SMEs. To this end, CDP has designed a dedicated capacity building Program aimed at strengthening SMEs industrial and operational capabilities and preparing them to access the capital markets.
  • The Program is structured around 3 core areas – training, mentoring, and networking – and is delivered through a hybrid model, combining both asynchronous and synchronous components to offer a comprehensive and interactive learning experience.
  • Through the Archipelagos digital platform, SMEs will have access to a vast learning catalogue of online courses, with differentiated learning paths according to the specific needs and stage of development. On top of the asynchronous component, webinars will contribute to make the learning journey even more stimulating, engaging, and interactive.
  • In addition to training, SMEs participating in the Program will also receive dedicated support and will have access to a community of SMEs and investors providing them the opportunity to make valuable business connections, also at international level.
  • Access to the Archipelagos capacity building platform will be provided also to young university graduates / young entrepreneurs that are willing to enhance their business knowledge and entrepreneurial skills.

2. Access to capital markets

  • The Archipelagos Program offers a unique opportunity for SMEs to access the capital they need to grow and scale up their business
  • At the end of the capacity building Program, the SMEs that demonstrate the readiness and potential to raise funds in the capital markets will be provided with tailored support and guided through the fundraising process.
  • Selected SMEs will in fact receive dedicated mentorship and coaching to best prepare for the interaction with potential investors (e.g., support in preparing a compelling investment pitch).
  • Finally, they will be supported in the structuring of innovative debt instruments and secure funding at favorable terms thanks to the first loss financial guarantee facility from the European Commission that will enable attracting other investors.

“You should check out”


  • Be Africa-based (incorporated or with main operations in Africa)
  • Have an annual turnover up to USD 50 million, with a minimum threshold of USD 1 million to be eligible for the financial guarantee.
  • Be in operation since at least 2 years;
  • Be a for-profit corporate (or other type of for-profit legal person)
  • Not be subject to any sanction or restriction.

Selection Criteria for Archipelagos Program

When shortlisting the SMEs the following criteria will be considered:

  • Size of the business in terms of revenues and number of employees
  • Performance in terms of growth and profitability
  • Sector of reference and geographical footprint
  • Impact generated in terms of Diversity. Social safeguards and ESG
  • Fit with the Program objectives and type of support needed


Are you willing to apply and join the Program to grow your company and enhance your business skills?

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Type of Opportunity Exchange Programs
Deadline30 June,2024



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