The Land Accelerator – Africa

The third annual Land Accelerator is being held via virtual meetings and mentorship from May – November 2021. However, we currently have applications open for the 2022 cohort! Please feel fee to start your application now.

Land Accelerator Africa 2021

  • The Top 100 Land Restoration Entrepreneurs will receive $5,000 Launchpad Grants and participate in WRI and Fledge’s largest Land Accelerator yet! This year’s Land Accelerator is in partnership with AUDA-NEPAD and in support of AFR100, the pan-African initiative aiming to begin restoring 100 million ha of degraded landscapes by 2030.
  • The program will be hosted in English and French.
  • We especially encourage women and young entrepreneurs of all stages of businesses to apply.

In 2021, WRI and our partners at Fledge and AFR100 are taking a novel approach to the Land Accelerator Africa. This year, we are expanding the size of our cohort to the Top 100 entrepreneurs from across the continent to join us for an all-virtual business accelerator. Restoration entrepreneurs were invited to apply from all Sub-Saharan African countries, free of charge.

 The Top 100 will benefit from:

  • 3 months of exclusive weekly trainings from experts
  • 3 months of access to Fledge’s online lessons for start-ups
  • Templates to create content to help your business thrive
  • Weekly office hours with mentors who will lend their expertise
  • Weekly networking sessions to speak with and learn from other entrepreneurs in your cohort
  • $5,000 Launchpad grants upon successful completion of the online program

The Top 100 entrepreneurs have the opportunity to apply for a Land Accelerator investment pack, which an expert panel awards to the Top 10 entrepreneurs.

Recipients of the investment packs benefit from:

  • A coaching meeting with a Land Accelerator organizer to develop your investment and innovation grant plan
  • A 90-minute group session with members of the Land Accelerator mentor network, who will provide tailored feedback
  • The opportunity to present your 3-minute business pitch at the virtual Land Accelerator Demo Day, an event that brings together the Top 10 and business and social investors from across the continent. 
  • Access to additional funding opportunities through the Land Accelerator Alumni Fund

For complete details on the 2021 program and tips on how to apply, please see our program announcement.

Testimonials from previous participants

What is the Land Accelerator Africa?

In 2018, World Resources Institute (WRI) launched the Land Accelerator Africa, the world’s first training and mentorship program targeted specifically toward businesses that restore degraded forests, farmland, and pasture. 

To support the AFR100 Initiative’s goal of restoring 100 million hectares of land by 2030, the Land Accelerator provides entrepreneurs across Africa with mentorship and networking opportunities, technical training, and workshops to build up their storytelling and pitching skills.

Participants leave the program more empowered to connect with potential investors so that they can take their business to the next stage of growth. The program has attracted nearly 700 applicants in Africa, and its alumni report that they have created 2,200 jobs, worked with 56,000 farmers, restored 38,000 hectares, and grown X million trees.

Past Cohorts

The 2019 Land Accelerator Africa | Nairobi, Kenya | September 2019

Out of the 335 businesses that applied to the 2019 Land Accelerator, 14 entrepreneurs from 8 African countries joined us in Nairobi. After a week of training from investors, alumni, and technical experts, they pitched to a room full of investors and entrepreneurs. Watch their pitches here!

Land Incubator Niger | Niamey, Niger | March 2019

WRI convened 11 Nigerien restoration entrepreneurs to accelerate investment in the country’s promising agriculture sector. Over this two-day workshop, the participants learned how to integrate resilience to climate change into their business models and present their companies to impact investors.

The 2018 Land Accelerator Africa | Nairobi, Kenya | December 2018

The first Land Accelerator brought together 12 restoration entrepreneurs from across Africa to Nairobi to learn how to scale up their businesses. Some have already seen success: One business raised $100,000 and received several large orders, while another won a $10,000 cash prize for its pitch. Learn more here.

You may see profiles of our previous African participants here.

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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WRI is a global research organization that spans more than 60 countries. The Institute’s more than 1,000 experts and staff work with government leaders, community groups, private sector actors, and others to turn big ideas into action to sustain and protect the world’s most precious natural resources. Through regional initiatives like AFR100 and Initiative 20×20, WRI’s Global Restoration Initiative is dedicated to restoring the health of degraded forests and landscapes around the globe for the benefit of people and the planet.

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Fledge is a global network of business accelerators and seed investment funds that help entrepreneurs bring their companies to scale through short, intense programs filled with education, guidance, and mentorship. To date, they have invested in over 40 African companies.

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The African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) serves as the Secretariat of the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), an alliance of 30 countries that have committed to restore 100 million ha of degraded land by 2030. The Secretariat actively supports women and youth entrepreneurs to restore land.

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 Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) is the Swedish government agency with the mission to reduce poverty in the world. The Embassy of Sweden in Addis Abeba is implementing the regional development cooperation strategy for Africa, on behalf of Sida.

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.


The Mitsubishi Corporation Fund for Europe and Africa is a charitable foundation established by Mitsubishi Corporation and its UK-based subsidiary Mitsubishi Corporation International (Europe) Plc. to support the promotion of environmental conservation, environmentally focused education and research, and the alleviation of poverty in Europe and Africa.