Water and Energy for Food Grand Challenge (WE4F) is recruiting innovators working on promoting local, sustainable, and innovative solutions for challenges in the water, energy, and agriculture sectors in the Middle East and North Africa.
The Middle East and North Africa Regional Innovation Hub (MENA RIH) proudly launches its first call for innovators with proven solutions to help meet the region’s most pressing water, energy and food security challenges. The first call for innovators will last from November 3rd through December 15th, 2020. Afterwards, up to 25 mid- to later-stage enterprises with a proven track record, an existing customer base and recurring sales will be invited to receive a broad portfolio of support mechanisms, including tailor-made funding, technical assistance (TA), networking, and investment matchmaking.
Through this competition, WE4F anticipates disbursing US $4.5 million in award funding (TA and Grants) for MENA and access to a regional and global network of key stakeholders. Individual awards for innovators are expected to range from $25,000 USD to $300,000 USD, depending on the type of funding requested.
Why is WE4F coming to the MENA region and what does the Regional Innovation Hub do?
The MENA region is subject to a plethora of challenges, including population growth, resource scarcity, water stress, gender inequality, and a high risk for conflict and displacement – all of this in addition to unsustainable agricultural and industrial practices that lead to deteriorating environments, biodiversity, and ecosystems. Tackling water-energy-food (WEF) related issues is key to achieving political and social stability, environmental sustainability, gender equality, base of the pyramid integration, food security and sustainable development in the region. At the same time, the environment within which WEF-related enterprises are set up is subject to national policies and legal frameworks and differs widely from country to country.
Besides catering directly to innovators through its support programs and extensive network, the MENA RIH supports WE4F’s goal to foster advantageous conditions for innovators, investors, and partners to ease pressures applied on businesses by various social, political, and economic challenges in the MENA region. In addition, further challenges related to operational scaling and sustainable business development will be jointly addressed through institutional and financial partnerships
WE4F utilizes the Regional Innovation Hub (RIH) model that was developed during Powering Agriculture. In addition to the MENA RIH, there are three RIHs located in East Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and West Africa.
Who can apply to the Call for Innovations?
In addition to hard criteria including sales, operational standards, sound management, transparency and accountability, WE4F places a focus on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) when assessing an innovator’s eligibility. The MENA RIH validates all candidates’ commitment to the sustainability of agricultural food value chains, the improvement of energy and water efficiency, and promotion of climate resilient agriculture by using strict environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria. Innovators are also expected to be committed to successfully integrating and supporting vulnerable populations into the supported innovators’ approaches. The MENA RIH will ensure gender integration criteria by empowering women-led enterprises and enterprises that make gender integration and bottom of the pyramid beneficiaries a cornerstone of their business.
Innovators must also be based in one or several of the following countries and territories: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, The Palestinian Territories, Tunisia, Sudan, and Yemen.
How to Apply
Concept Notes must be submitted no sooner than November 3rd, 2020 and no later than 5pm CET on December 15th, 2020 via the WE4F Online Application Platform which can be accessed at: http//we4f.org/apply-mena.
Applicants should retain a copy of their proposals and accompanying uploaded documents for their records.
Prospective applicants who have questions concerning the contents of this Call for Innovations shall submit them in writing no later than 5pm CET on November 16th, 2020. The questions can be submitted to email@example.com. All questions will be tackled during the November 23rd webinars. The English webinar will take place from 2pm – 3:30pm CET and the Arabic webinar from 4pm – 5:30pm CET.
While the deadline for technical, program-related questions closes on November 16th, applicants and other interested parties can still reach out to the MENA RIH via firstname.lastname@example.org.