COMPETE Salone

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

1. What is COMPETE Salone?
2. What does the Fund aim to achieve?
3. Who can apply for funding through COMPETE Salone?
4. What financial capacity do applicants need to have?
5. Does COMPETE Salone provide upfront payments for businesses?
6. How different is COMPETE Salone from other funds and finance providers in Sierra Leone?
7. What impacts are COMPETE Salone looking for?
8. Looking at the minimum amount provided under COMPETE Salone, would one be wrong to conclude that the Fund is not for small and upcoming businesses?
1. What is COMPETE Salone?

COMPETE Salone is a competitive facility through which businesses operating in agribusiness, light manufacturing, fisheries, tourism and other key systemic sectors of Sierra Leone can apply for grant funding to develop more inclusive export products and access new international and regional markets, which, if successful, can deliver significant impact on Sierra Leone’s private sector and allied supply chains.

COMPETE Salone will work by offering a matching grant and technical assistance to the private sector to test new approaches, products and export markets that they would not be prepared to pursue on a purely commercial basis.

2. What does the Fund aim to achieve?

We have very high ambitions for COMPETE Salone. We hope that the Fund will help companies pursue a number of innovative new projects that will have a real, positive and sustainable impact on the way business is conducted, the international markets that Sierra Leone products and services can reach, and how domestic companies across these supply chains benefit from this process.

We are essentially looking for the development of new export opportunities that can have a significant impact on Sierra Leone companies in terms of revenues they can generate, sustainable new jobs that can be created, and new investment these businesses can leverage.

3. Who can apply for funding through COMPETE Salone?

Each COMPETE Salone competition is open to all but must be led by a for-profit private sector firm. Implementation of the proposed project could be supported by other organisations including other private sector companies, non-governmental organisations, and other civil society organisations. However, it is a condition that the lead applicant and implementer of the business idea must always be a commercial company/business.

4. What financial capacity do applicants need to have?

The organisations that are promoting a business idea to COMPETE Salone, including the lead company, collaborating organisations and third parties such as co-investors or banks and other lenders, must provide matching funds of at least 40% of the total cost of the business idea. In this way we are assured that the lead company and its collaborative partners have ultimate ownership of the project. The total grant funds requested must be between £100,000 and £400,000.

Given the current economic climate, contributions can be made through a combination of in-kind and cash contributions. However, the level of in-kind contributions permissible will be decided on a case by case basis dependent on the logic of the individual project proposed.

5. Does COMPETE Salone provide upfront payments for businesses?

No. Payments will be made according to an agreed schedule with the project’s implementer(s). These payments will be released when the project meets each pre-agreed milestone. Payments will in most cases be reimbursements for funds spent by the grantees, according to the contract.

6. How different is COMPETE Salone from other funds and finance providers in Sierra Leone?

COMPETE Salone provides grants for projects, it does not seek to obtain any financial return. The Fund is not an equity or venture capital investor and will not buy shares in a company or a project. Nor will it wish to share in the profits of successful projects.

Our goal is to support projects that have the potential to increase exports by delivering value addition opportunities to Sierra Leonean producers, service providers and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in supply chains which the projects are operating in. What we are really interested in are potentially risky projects that can demonstrate the potential for commercial sustainability in the long run. We are not interested in supporting a low level of business risk that could easily attract more conventional financing, such as bank loans.

COMPETE Salone is not a bank and does not provide loans or other kinds of debt financing. The funding provided is grant money, and there is no interest or other charges attached to the money provided by the Fund.

7. What impacts are COMPETE Salone looking for?

COMPETE Salone is looking for each business project that it funds under the COVID-19 Recovery Window to have a significant impact on:

  • Maintaining or providing additional revenues to companies within the direct targeted supply chain of the applicant company
  • The number of jobs retained or new permanent or part-time jobs created by the proposed project
  • The reduction of logistics and distribution costs, and/or maintaining the integrity and efficiency of the targeted supply chain
  • Increasing local Sierra Leone content within a targeted product or service proposed.

Thus, we are not looking at projects that solely benefit the participating companies/organisations of a particular project.

There is no fixed criterion for the minimum number of additional Sierra Leonean companies/producers that an individual project needs to cover in terms of additional jobs or increased revenues, but we encourage firms to think of the most innovative way to impact on large numbers of these.

8. Looking at the minimum amount provided under COMPETE Salone, would one be wrong to conclude that the Fund is not for small and upcoming businesses?

Yes, it would be wrong to conclude that COMPETE Salone is not for smaller or upcoming businesses. It is important to note that COMPETE Salone does not make pre-determined judgments on what type of businesses should be implementing their ideas, so long as the business and its collaborative partners have demonstrated their capacity to implement the project.

COMPETE Salone is open to all and although the minimum threshold of grants is £100,000, it is important to note that contributing funds from companies can be based on a combination of cash and in-kind payments, based on the logic of the individual project being proposed. Furthermore, the entire matching contribution does not need to be provided upfront but rather funds by the company need to be utilised on reaching agreed milestones from which COMPETE Salone will reimburse a proportion of the expenditure.

Finally, the lead company does not necessarily have to finance the entire matching contribution on its own but it can be shared with other implementing partners, be they businesses or other organisations. Ultimately COMPETE Salone needs to be convinced that an individual project’s lead company and implementing partners have the financial and technical capability to make their idea a reality.

Can’t find your question?

If you have further questions or are still not sure, please contact us.

Supported by FCDO through the Invest Salone programme, COMPETE Salone is designed to be a quick, responsive mechanism that is not overly bureaucratic and understands the needs of the private sector. For questions about COMPETE Salone, please contact us at CSquestions@investsalone.com.

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