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The agri-food sector occupies a crucial place in West Africa with more than 55% of the rural population deriving most of its resources from agricultural activities. Thus, small-scale farmers are key players in this sector and contribute to 70% of the food needs of the African continent. However, they are faced with a decline in their productivity, which particularly impacts women and youth. Rampant demographics (the population in West Africa is expected to double by 2050) and the effects of climate change are increasing the threat to productivity and require the development of a more sustainable agricultural sector to ensure food security throughout the region and decent incomes for smallholders.
Thus, the foundation of a more productive and resilient agri-food sector will also be based on the efficient use of water and energy throughout the agri-food value chains. Numerous innovations already exist in West Africa that directly address these challenges. The large-scale dissemination of these innovations will require capacity building, both technical and commercial, for the entrepreneurs who develop them, and will thus make it possible to increase food production.
About the WE4F West Africa innovation call
The WE4F programme is aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that have an innovative, climate-friendly and water and/or energy-efficient solution that contributes to increasing food production and consequently improving the income of small-scale farmers. These innovations are no longer at the pilot stage but must already be distributed on the market. They must be based on a sustainable business model and sold at a socially acceptable price.
The benefits offered by the WE4F programme will allow companies developing innovative solutions (for the sustainable use of water and energy) for food production to scale up their products, reach new customer segments, new geographical areas and increase their turnover. The selected entrepreneurs will be part of an acceleration programme and will benefit from
- A personalised diagnosis, enabling them to identify their priority areas of work in order to boost their scaling up
- Local technical support via a team of business developers and network of highly qualified partners in the following areas: marketing, communication, knowledge of international markets, strengthening of managerial, administrative and financial capacities, monitoring and control of operations, legal support, etc.
- Support for the purchase of equipment and raw materials
- Opportunities to network with other entrepreneurs in the region to encourage the sharing of experiences
- Coaching to prepare for fundraising and events to meet investors
- The value of these benefits is between 41,600 USD and 180,700 USD, depending on the needs of each company.
These innovations can be physical solutions (solar pump systems, biodigesters), technological (moisture sensors, remote sensing by drones), digital (soil monitoring app), or financial (pays-as-you-go).
The proposed solutions must present a water and energy-efficient (and climate-friendly) innovation that demonstrates a direct or indirect positive impact on smallholder farmers.
Applications from women entrepreneurs are strongly encouraged.
The winners will benefit from technical and financial support (worth up to $ 181,000 USD or equivalent to 152,000 euros) for the scaling up of their innovation.
A professional investment will be required from the entrepreneur for the proper execution and monitoring of activities.
The WE4F West Africa call for innovations is aimed at SMEs that have developed innovations that respond, directly or indirectly, to the challenge of increasing food production. The companies targeted by this call for innovations must have their headquarters in one of the following nine countries: Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Niger, Benin and Nigeria, and distribute their solutions in at least one of the nine countries mentioned.
These companies must also certify:
- A legal existence (registration in the commercial register of their country and tax register);
- A presence on the market for the distributed solution for at least 24 months (i.e. the innovative solution is available since August 2019);
- A minimum of 5 employees;
- An annual turnover of between 14,300 USD and 357,000 USD ;
These companies must have the ambition to scale up their solutions and expand their business activities by reaching new customers or new geographical areas.
For all information on how to apply please see here.
WE4F is a joint international initiative of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the European Union (EU), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of the Netherlands, the Government of Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Building on the lessons learned from PAEGC (Powering Agriculture: an Energy Grand Challenge for Development) and SWFF (Securing Water for Food Grand Challenge), the WE4F programme aims to scale up innovative water and energy solutions to help increase food production and thus address the challenge of food security.