Never Let a Crisis Go Underutilized – Lessons Learned from WE4F’s Ag-Energy Prize

For entrepreneurs, being able to adapt and pivot when faced with a crisis is a key skill for their companies’ survival. Having a great product or service won’t support long-term growth if a business cannot take a crisis and see the opportunities within it. 

 Water and Energy for Food (WE4F) took that entrepreneurial skill to heart while implementing our WE4F Asia EDGE Ag-Energy Prize during the first half of 2020. After COVID-19 disrupted our plans and created new challenges, USAID Catalyst, the team in charge of implementing the prize, needed to get innovative. With a workshop to host, final contestants to judge, and winners to announce, the team needed a new path forward. By pausing to interview the Ag-Energy Prize finalists to understand their needs, USAID Catalyst was able to successfully pivot to a new virtual workshop and judging model. The prize timeline continued uninterrupted, allowing the prize winners to be announced at the Asia Clean Energy Forum. 

The sense of partnership and innovative spirit fostered by the prize finalists and the workshop implementation team resulted in many lessons learned for both parties. From the discussions on the importance of gender and ESGs, to the finalists’ feedback on each day’s session, the workshop attendees came away with valuable insight for their companies and future events planning.

In the first session of the 10-week series, Where Do We Go from Here? Lessons Learned for Future Water-Energy-Food Programming, USAID Catalyst covers the lessons learned from the WE4F Asia Ag-Energy Prize Workshop. The team focuses on how to design and host a virtual workshop while integrating the changing needs of innovators in current and post COVID-19 settings.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to work with entrepreneurs and companies to help them adapt their operations, make sure to watch Navigating Business Models for the Base of the Pyramid Consumers. Interested in learning more about innovators thoughts’ on gender and ESGs? Join Securing Water for Food for the webinars, From Theory to Practice: Gender Integration of SWFF Innovators  and Environmental Monitoring and Support for Innovators.