Archipelagos: Cassa Depositi e Prestiti’s SME Development Program for African Businesses

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Archipelagos, a multi-year international cooperation program, is a joint effort by Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, the Italian Financial Institution for International Development Cooperation, in collaboration with the European Commission.

This initiative calls for applications from over 1000 SMEs across Africa to participate in a dedicated capacity-building program aimed at enhancing their capabilities and preparing them for the capital markets.

Selected SMEs will engage in a customized learning experience through the Archipelagos digital platform. This platform offers access to training, mentorship, and networking opportunities.

Upon completion of the program, the most promising SMEs will receive specialized support in raising capital through innovative debt instruments, backed by a guarantee facility from the European Commission.

In alignment with the Team Europe Initiative of Investing in Young Business in Africa (TEI IYBA), young university graduates and entrepreneurs can access the capacity-building program to refine their business skills.

Eligibility Requirements: SMEs must meet the following criteria:

  • Based in Africa (incorporated or having primary operations in Africa)
  • Annual turnover up to USD 50 million (with a minimum threshold of USD 1 million for financial guarantee eligibility)
  • Operational for at least 2 years
  • For-profit corporate entity
  • Free from any sanctions or restrictions

Archipelagos seeks participants who aim to:

  • Enhance skills and capabilities to grow their businesses and increase competitiveness
  • Seek guidance from experienced professionals to overcome challenges and achieve goals
  • Establish connections with other businesses for growth and knowledge-sharing
  • Explore collaborations that align with business objectives
  • Access debt capital by connecting with potential investors

Selected SMEs can nominate up to 3 key figures within their organization for platform access (e.g., founder, finance manager, strategy manager).

The capacity-building platform also welcomes applications from young university graduates and entrepreneurs seeking to enhance their academic and entrepreneurial skills.

The selection process for SMEs considers:

  • Business size in terms of revenue and employee count
  • Performance indicators like expansion and financial viability

Sector and geographical footprint

  • Impact in terms of diversity, social safeguards, and ESG practices
  • Alignment with program objectives and support requirements

Young university graduates and entrepreneurs can apply directly for access to the capacity-building platform.

Applications are open on a rolling basis until June 30, 2024. For further details about the Archipelagos Program, visit For inquiries, contact

For additional information,

Application deadline: June 30, 2024

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