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The East African region has great potential for food production with a majority of the population living in rural areas and working in agriculture. However, small-scale farmers are often confronted with low productivity and high post-harvest losses, with particular adverse effects on women and the poor. Furthermore, the food production processes use up high amounts of traditional energy sources (e.g., diesel, wood) and groundwater exacerbating climate change, depletion of natural resources, and biodiversity loss. To address these challenges, innovators (commercial companies or organizations) have already developed numerous approaches and technologies for a climate-friendly, water- and energy-efficient agricultural and food industry. Nevertheless, innovators often have insufficient entrepreneurial capacities to successfully and sustainably scale upmarket developed prototypes of innovative technologies in local, regional, and global markets.
About the call
The WE4F East Africa Innovation Call is searching for climate-friendly and resource-efficient solutions, such as the provision of products, processes, services, technologies, or business models addressing the WEF Nexus challenges in East Africa. These solutions may be digital or non-digital, organizational, financial, or advisory in nature. The WE4F programme is particularly interested in easily accessible, adaptive, low-cost solutions with immediate impacts and benefits for small-holder farmers and other value chain actors as well as net positive impacts on natural resources, especially water and energy. Examples of solution themes can be found here.
WE4F is looking for innovative Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) who are addressing the water-energy-food nexus in East Africa. The enterprises must offer solutions that increase sustainable food production, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and / or reduce water and energy intensity of the food chain, while increasing income for smallholder farmers, women and youth.
Moreover, the SMEs have to comply with the following criteria:
- Geography: Entrepreneurs must be legally incorporated as a for-profit company in one of these 7 East African countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Malawi or Somalia.
- Age: Businesses must be operational for at least 18 months.
- Size: WE4F is looking for established enterprises with annual revenue of €50,000 to €500,000 equivalent – not at pilot or prototype stages. Applicants should also have a well-established team of between 5 to 200 employees.
- Ambition: Applicants must have an established current customer base with ambitions to scale to new geographies, products, customer segments, and/or increase annual turnover. They should be seeking debt, equity, or blended finance investments to scale the business.
- Impact: The best candidates will demonstrate direct/indirect positive impact to the smallholder farmers, the environment, women, and youth.
- At least 15 enterprises from across 7 countries will be shortlisted to be part of the first regional programme. Support will be delivered over a 15 to 18 month period.
- With technical assistance funding awards of €50,000 to €500,000, the programme will provide business advisory and access to finance support
- Selected enterprises may qualify for results-based financing opportunities to help achieve scaling goals.
To apply, click here.
Water and Energy for Food (WE4F) is a joint international initiative of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the European Union (EU), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of the Netherlands, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Launched at the Social Capital Markets 2019 signature event in San Francisco, California, WE4F aims to:
- Increase food production along the value chain through more sustainable and efficient use of water and/or energy.
- Increase income for the base of the pyramid women and men in both rural and urban areas.
- Sustainably scale innovators’ solutions to meet the challenges in the WE4F nexus.
- Promote climate and environmental resilience and biodiversity through the sustainable, holistic management of natural resources and ecosystems.