The ACF was established by Conservation International (CI) with the objective to align economic and conservation objectives in the communities in and around the Maasai Mara in Kenya. Working with partners such as the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust (MWCT), the Big Life Foundation, and Apple, the ACF provides debt capital to the Trust to develop sustainable revenue generating activities such as eco-tourism, sustainable agriculture, and carbon credit generation. The loans are to be repaid from this revenue.

Stage of Implementation

To-date, CI and its affiliates have provided USD 500,000 in loan capital to the Trust and aims to increase this to USD 5 million over two years. CI is targeting USD 100 million as the initial capital post-proof of concept. CI has further plans to expand this model to other areas in Africa with rich potential for ecotourism or other sustainable revenue generating activities.

Actors Involved

  • MWCT: The Trust was formed to protect the culture heritage and economic interests of the Maasai people, which includes habitat protection and restoration. The Trust will be the borrower in the ACF and will be responsible for designing and executing the planned activities.
  • Conservation International: CI provides technical assistance to the Trust to identify and carry out the conservation plan. They also developed and structured the pilot instrument.
  • DFIs and impact investors: Concessional capital providers with impact mandates are likely to be the main funders for this model initially, as the full commercial viability of the approach is still being proven.
  • Carbon markets: Trusts that incorporate reforestation will realize a mitigation co-benefit of greenhouse gas reduction, which can be monetized and sold as carbon credits to governments or private companies.


  • Private/local land ownership: The Trust model relies on the authority of local communities to make decisions around how their land is managed, and to be able to earn income from activities carried out (or avoided) on the land. Areas under national government are less likely to be able to benefit from this highly local, highly participatory structure.
  • Legal framework for Trust structure: Trusts need to be able to incorporate and have authority to take investments, borrow money, distribute funds, and oversee and implement conservation and income generating activities.

Applicable Countries

CI is looking at expanding the Fund concept to Sub-Saharan Africa.


This project has been developed in partnership with the Global Center on Adaptation


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