MENA Innovation Camp 2022: Building Relationships and Sharing Lessons Learned

From the 11th until the 13th of May, 2022 in Limassol, Cyprus, the MENA Regional Innovation Hub hosted the in-person Innovation BootCamp that gathered 30 innovators from all across the Middle East and North Africa regions – Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Sudan – from 3 cohorts managed by the 4 local consortium partners of Berytech, cewas, IWMI and Chemonics Egypt. Five months out of the bootcamp, WE4F is reflecting on the innovation camp and the partnerships it has created.

Targeting the Middle East and North Africa’s Most Pressing Issues

For the MENA innovators, the Innovation Camp was an opportunity for all the innovators from the 3 cohorts, exchange lessons learned,  share the legal, policy, and regulatory challenges that they face,and work on partnership approaches to jointly address sustainable agriculture, biodiversity, gender equality, and climate change. 

By bringing together the innovators, the MENA staff, Secretariat members, and donors, the camp served as a key platform for fostering knowledge and information exchange across the local, regional, and international levels of the program.

Exploring Innovators’ Needs and Helping Them Grow

One of the best ways for innovators to learn – and one of the most preferred session styles – is peer-to-peer learning. This style allows innovators to discuss issues they are currently facing while getting feedback and advice from their colleagues.

Additionally, workshops were held to cover topics like investment readiness journey and company valuation, enabling environment, environmental sustainability, and gender integration. By having workshops specifically focused on these topics, the innovators are able to discuss challenges that are both internal and external to their organization. The sharing of the challenges and bottlenecks was not useful for the innovators, it will help the MENA RIH better understand innovators’ needs and how to work with them over the coming years. 

The top five most useful sessions were: 

  • Investment Readiness Journey Session
  • Enabling Environment Session
  • End Users and End-User Financing
  • Networking
  • Workshops and inputs by the RIH team overall

Looking at the results, it’s very easy to see that innovators are looking to expand their business, create new partnerships, and increase end-users’ access to innovations.  

The bootcamp served to connect the innovators and facilitate the establishment of key national and regional potential partnerships between them. To name a few…

Iraqi Innovator Dhia Al Alamiyah structures its hydroponic system smart controllers locally and assembles all the required equipment in Iraq. They are in need of controllers for light, for humidity and air-conditioning and irrigation and sensors, so they will foster a partnership with fellow Iraqi Green Shovel, who can provide them with all the system controllers and sensors.

GreenScape, also from Iraq, recently confirmed their partnership with Ainda Agricultural Center regarding the Aquasorb project. Ainda Agricultural Center purchased 25kg of Aquasorb from GreenScape and then sold them to their farmer.

In the true spirit of a holistic Lebanese WE4F collaboration chain, Innovator Irma and Co partnered with Compost Baladi for its earth cube – they have also collaborated with Robinson Agri by buying their drip system.