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. Further, the food production processes use up high amounts of traditional energy sources (e.g. diesel, wood) and groundwater which exacerbates climate change, depletion of natural resources and biodiversity loss. In order 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. However, innovators often have insufficient entrepreneurial capacities to successfully and sustainably scale upmarket developed prototypes of innovative technologies in local, regional and global markets.
East Africa Regional Innovation Hub
- Supporting the distribution of innovations (solar technologies, apps, e-mobility, etc.)
- Strengthening entrepreneurial capacities
- Informing end users and multipliers about innovations
- Improving accessing to financing for innovators and end-users
- Improving political conditions for innovations
- Accelerating the exchange of experiences on the local, regional and global level
We support the scaling-up of climate-friendly and environmentally sustainable, energy and/or water-efficient innovations in the water, energy and food/ agriculture sectors across the region, with a focus on women and the poor. Innovations include technologies, business and finance models and new modes of cooperation (e.g. sharing economy). Innovations may include weather forecast apps, solar cooling technologies, pay-as-you go models for solar pumping, hydroponic farming approaches, or leasing models for e-motorbikes in rural areas.
We are working closely with the private sector to unleash the potential of innovations. To do this, we have two principle ways of engaging with businesses: a) Competitive Calls for Funding, and b) Public-Private Partnerships.
Innovation ecosystems are made up of different actors, relationships and resources that all play a role in taking a great idea to transformative Impact and systemic change at scale and allow businesses to succeed. We therefore engage in a range of activities to support such ecosystems, including research partnerships, advising policy-making, financing and investor networks, collaborations with industry associations, community outreach and pilot projects, trainings and capacity development.
One of the main advantages of the global structure of WE4F is that lessons learned can be shared around the world, success stories can be adapted and replicated in different contexts, knowledge exchanges and study tours can easily be organised. The Hub will work closely with our partners and other WE4F Hubs to share knowledge, create global knowledge platforms and expand technical knowledge.
The Team in East Africa
Lucie Pluschke is the East Africa Hub Manager of WE4F, supporting innovative SMEs and other partners across the region in an effort to support the catalytic role of the private sector in bringing about transformational change in agriculture. Lucie previously worked as Land & Water Officer for the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the UN, where she coordinated FAO’s water-energy-food nexus activities among other things. She holds a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Sussex, UK and a M.Sc. in Sustainability Science from the University of Lund, Sweden.
Macben Mackenzie is a senior energy specialist with over 11 years’ experience in renewable energy projects, energy efficiency, industrial automation and nexus topics (water-energy-food). He currently serves as the Technical Advisor for the joint international initiative Water & Energy for Food (WE4F), based in the East Africa Hub. He holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Mechatronic Engineering and a Master’s degree in Energy Technology. He has also undertaken and obtained several other certifications including from the Florence School of Regulation (FSR) and the Renewables Academy AG (RENAC). During the past decade, his work has focused on the promotion, design, evaluation and development of clean energy and water-energy efficiency projects in the energy and agri-food sectors. Macben holds several practitioner licenses including an International Certified Energy Manager (CEM®) license, Solar PV T3 license from the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) in Kenya, Energy auditors license (Grade A) from EPRA, an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) auditor’s license from the National Environmental and Management Authority (NEMA) and several other international certifications in the areas of renewable energy, water and energy efficiency. He is also a registered member of the Engineers Board of Kenya and the Institution of Engineers of Kenya.
Vyone Mingate is an Agribusiness consultant with expertise in program/project management, impact investment, finance, and administration. Yvone brings a great interest in sustainable development finance and impact investing. Her experience in East Africa is diverse, working with both private and public sectors to empower smallholder farmers. She has a passion working for programs and organizations that result in positive impact through agriculture.
Thomas Kimani is the EA Hub Finance Manager at the Water and Energy for Food Programme in May 2020 after serving GIZ in various finance and admin capacities for the last 10 years. Born and raised in the rural parts of Kenya, Thomas obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Actuarial Science from The University of Nairobi. He is also a Certified Public Accountant (Level II). Thomas has a passion for driving initiatives that enable communities, organizations and individuals to flourish and as such, his career has been spent in the non-profit sector primarily in the finance and admin areas.
Kilian Blumenthal works as Junior Advisor for GIZ in the WE4F East Africa Hub in Kenya. He holds a B.Sc. in Environmental Engineering of the HAW Hamburg and a M.Sc. in Agricultural Sciences in the Tropics and Subtropics of the University of Hohenheim. In his final theses he assessed Solar Water Pumping Systems in Bolivia and the Potential Use of Solar Energy in the Maize Value Chain in Benin. He did trainings on the SPIS Toolbox on various occasions and gained many experiences during longer stays in countries of South America and Sub Saharan Africa.
Fredrick has more than 8 years of progressive work experience in designing and implementing Monitoring and Evaluation approaches that have facilitated assessments, learning and knowledge management of donor-funded development programs in Agricultural Value Chain; Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene; as well as Health and Peace building programs (Somalia). Amongst the organization he worked for include Care International in Kenya, Hope Worldwide Kenya, Fintrac Inc., and Deloitte East Africa. Most recently, he was the M&E Specialist at Development Alternative Inc. (DAI), responsible for designing and managing systems for data collection, monitoring and evaluation, and knowledge management for an integrated WASH Program in Kenya. He ensured that the project team generated data and learnt from project activities on an ongoing basis to identify the highest return opportunities. Fredrick has a passion for building M&E systems for a more unified approach to program quality and effectiveness.
Sarah is a researcher and enterprise development expert with over 8 years’ experience in enterprise support, program & project management, public policy research and policy advocacy. She holds a bachelor’s in economics and Statistics and a Master’s in Public policy analysis. Sarah has undertaken research in various fields including agribusiness, renewable energy, water and waste management with a focus on climate change adaptation and mitigation, access to justice and human rights, governance and rule of law, public finance and financial development. She has also offered enterprises support and training for MSMEs to reengineer the business processes as well as offered investment readiness support.