Call for Applications // LATAM4WEF launches search for youth innovators and SMEs solving the regions’ water, energy, and food security issues
The LATAM4WEF Innovation Lab is opening applications for youth innovators and small and medium-sized enterprises (SME)s in Latin America and the Caribbean to co-design and co-develop solutions that could help address water, energy, and food security (WEF) challenges in Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia & Peru.
In partnership with GIZ, SAFEEM, and Nexus, LATAM4WEF aims to solve the most pressing threats to our planet through developing technology and harnessing the power of impactful home-grown solutions.
Bringing young innovators together with SMEs that are aware of challenging realities in local communities, LATAM4WEF is set to provide a collaborative space for participants in ideating, validating, and scaling their technology solutions for WEF use, mitigation, and adaptation across Latin America and the Caribbean, but especially in targeted countries: México, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia & Perú.
Supported by private sector experts, entrepreneurs, and innovation facilitators, the participants of LATAM4WEF will be challenged to think outside of the box and co-create solutions and business ideas. The Innovation Lab will provide a unique opportunity for participants to demonstrate their knowledge, problem-solving skills, and creativity while co-creating and networking with peers and experts in the field.
SMEs in the LATAM region who would like to participate in the programme and propose their WEF challenges for youth innovators to solve must meet the following requirements:
Fully legal registration according to local authorities and kind of business;
At least 2 years of operations;
At least 50 direct employees;
The main business is in Agriculture, AgriTech, Water/Sanitization, Food Production/Distribution, Energy Supply Chain, Alternative Energy, and/or Water, Energy, and Food Security related;
Experience implementing/participating in sustainability projects around WEF;
The commitment to participating in mentoring 1 team with one internal expert (Optional); and,
Has a WEF challenge that wants to be solved
For innovators who would like to take part and solve WEF challenges, the application criteria are as follows:
Participants will be between 20 and 30 years old;
Must be attending university or have completed higher education;
Aspiring or early-stage entrepreneurs or students interested in launching an idea in the WEF area and building entrepreneurial muscle and launching an idea to address WEF challenges;
Passionate about solving WEF technology needs and challenges in LATAM; and
Can apply as an individual applicant or can apply as a group if they already have a team of a maximum of 3 members that will work at the Innovation Lab.
Once participants are selected, the programme will hold its WEF Innovation Labs, a 2.5-day event intended to introduce young talent to the entrepreneurial mindset, basic techniques of entrepreneurship, and, often, a specific theme giving the basis to solve WEF Nexus challenges.
The Labs follow a rhythm of theory followed by an action session allowing participants to put into practice what they are taught. Sessions include ideation, lean canvas, hypothesis testing, MVP development, and pitching. At the end of the programme, the teams present the business pitch and product mock-up they will have developed during the programme to the group and jury panel.
“The challenges present by water, energy, and food security issues require a collaborative effort to solve. SAFEEM believes in supporting problem-solvers by providing them with the right resources and access to large communities that can help them make a difference,” shared Latam Regional Lead & Program Manager, Paula Garcia Malpica. ”We’re excited to see the great solutions LATAM4WEF’s participants could bring together.”
From there, selected participants will move on to the Academy programme, a 6-8 week long programme to support young talent by transferring the necessary skills for an entrepreneurial career path, and providing hands-on support in launching their verified ideas and iterating their products as progress, so that they can pursue the ventures. The Academy includes theoretical training but is largely mentorship-driven to support each specific project's needs.
LATAM4WEF ends with the selection of the top 10 participants who will be awarded free flights into the Matchmaking and Demo Day onsite event. Finalists will be able to pitch their solutions and get the chance to interact with regional industry players, ecosystem enablers, and investors. Such encounters give participants a chance to increase their network and business opportunities as well as their visibility.
How to apply
SMEs interested in participating, application dates are from November 8 to December 9th, 2022. SMEs can sign up here.
Young innovators who would like to take part in LATAM4WEF can apply from November 16 to December 9, 2022. Youth innovators can sign up here.
Paula Garcia Malpica