§ Mrs. Spelman
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development (1) what criteria are used for allocation of Business Linkages Challenge Fund grants; what mechanisms are in place to assess the impact and effectiveness of grants made under the Business Linkages Challenge Fund; and what assessment her Department has made of the impact and effectiveness of projects funded by the Business Linkages Challenge Fund; 
(2)how much money has been allocated to grants through the Business Linkages Challenge Fund; 
(3)how many businesses have received funding through the Business Linkages Challenge Fund. 
§ Clare Short
The Business Linkages Challenge Fund was launched in January 2001. It has since been made available for application by enterprises in 19 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the UK. The fund accepts bids for assistance twice a year. All bids are independently assessed on fixed timescales and on a competitive basis. 311W More information on the fund can be obtained from the website: www. challengefunds.org. or by contacting the DFID public inquiry point on 01355 84 3132.
Since the launch of the fund in January 2001, there has been one completed bidding round—with the second bidding round presently in progress. In the first bidding round, the fund panel approved four projects. Contracts for the implementation of these projects are currently being concluded with the bidders, with projects either just commencing or due to commence shortly. The four projects approved will receive grants amounting to circa £700,000.
The four projects approved were all submitted by consortiums. In total, 12 companies, five public bodies, three non-governmental organisations and one university department are expected to be involved in these four consortiums.