The Land Accelerator – Africa

The third annual Land Accelerator will be held via virtual meetings and mentorship beginning in mid 2021 and is open to entrepreneurs from across Africa.  Applications are currently open.

The Land Accelerator’s second African cohort met from September 7-12, 2019, in Nairobi, Kenya. The 14 startups were chosen from 335 applicants and represent 8 African countries. Each received a EUR 3,000 grant in addition to a travel stipend. Over 100 investors and members of Nairobi’s start-up community joined us at the Demo Day on Sep 12, 2019 to meet the entrepreneurs.

Why Land Restoration: 

Worldwide over 3.2 billion people are at risk from land degradation. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) indicates that three million hectares of forest are lost and 65 percent of land is impacted by degradation in Africa every year. Nearly two-thirds of Africa’s land is degraded, which hinders sustainable economic development and resilience to climate change. As a result, Africa has the largest restoration opportunity of any continent: more than 700 million hectares (1.7 billion acres) of degraded forest landscapes that can be restored. The potential benefits include improved food and water security, biodiversity protection, climate change resilience, and economic growth.

Who are Land Restoration Entrepreneurs:  

Land Restoration Entrepreneurs are founders whose businesses restore the land. Yes, financially sustainable and profitable businesses can also restore land!  A sampling of business models we have identified around the globe include: Farms that incorporate trees onto their land; growing restorative plants and trees (such as bamboo or cashew trees) on severely degraded lands, thus restoring the water table and increasing soil nutrients; the business of reforestation that creates forests for both private and public clients; agroforestry and silvopasture which adds trees to the landscape of traditional agriculture lands; creation of organic fertilizer, pesticides and other nature-based soil amendments; technologies that lessen the demand for firewood, such as bio-fuel cookstoves; business models that support the profitability of maintaining forests, such as eco-tourism, bioprospecting, and sustainable forest products such as honey, specialty seeds and berries, mushrooms, oils and more. 

Impact of the Land Accelerator: 

Through the Land Accelerator, we build networks and give entrepreneurs the opportunity to increase their skills in storytelling and pitching so that they can connect with debt and equity funders who can help them reach the next level. Through expert mentorship, participants will explore new ways of maximizing their business models so that they can compete and grow their customer base, revenue, and environmental impact. Through sector-specific workshops participants will learn about cross cutting themes and best practices targeted towards land-based entrepreneurs such as farmer outreach, last-mile distribution, water management, international environmental certification standards and procedures, agroforestry techniques and conservation farming.  The participants of Land Accelerators often network with one another, becoming each other’s newest clients, and most trusted sounding board for new ideas.  

How you can get involved:  

We are currently recruiting qualified business leaders, agricultural leaders, and investors to get involved as mentors, presenters, and venture judges. We are also seeking companies that would like to sponsor naming rights to a reception, or a grant prize to a judge-selected entrepreneur. For either of these options, please email Amanda, amanda.gant@wri.org. If you know of any great land restoration entrepreneurs, you can also encourage them to apply here

The Land Accelerator Africa Partners: 

The Land Accelerator in Africa is led by World Resources Institute in participation with AFR100. Fledge is the knowledge partner, providing world class skills-building and networking. We are also thankful to the donor organizations for their generous support of this work.

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The World Resources Institute‘s Global Restoration Initiative inspires, enables and mobilizes action to restore vitality to degraded landscapes and forests around the globe.

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African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) is a country-led effort to bring 100 million hectares of land in Africa into restoration by 2030.

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Fledge is a global network of conscious company accelerators and investment funds that has invested in over 30 African companies. 

DONORS

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Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is a co-founder of the AFR100 initiative. In Africa BMZ is working to strengthen the development capacity of African states.

The DOEN Foundation supports pioneers who work hard to establish a greener, more socially inclusive, and more creative society, in which the capacity of the planet is the starting point.