MAEF works to identify, support and scale-up rural enterprises that contribute to a functioning market that smallholders can engage with, thereby lifting themselves out of poverty. MAEF builds upon the successes of and lessons learned from its predecessor, the Maendeleo Agricultural Technology Fund (MATF), which provided small-scale farmers in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda with better access to improved agricultural technologies. From 2002-2010, MAEF provided grants for 67 technology transfer projects, raising household incomes between 60 and 400 percent.
A detailed evaluation indicated that even greater impact could be achieved by improving market linkages and business training. Technology transfer had been an important first step, but to deliver the macro-level changes Farm Africa is aiming for requires a more focused, market-based approach. With this in mind, Farm Africa launched the Maendeleo Agricultural Enterprise Fund in 2011.