From September 27-29 2021 in Grand Bassam, the final selection bootcamp of the Water and Energy for Food (WE4F/PEEPA) West Africa Regional Call for Innovations (CFI) took place. The CFI ran from August 4 to September 1, 2021 in 9 countries in the West African region: Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo.
The purpose of the West Africa CFI was to find 15 innovators who will participate in the WE4F/PEEPA accelerator program. This 12-month program for entrepreneurs with innovations in the water-energy-food nexus provides technical and financial support worth up to CFAF 100 million (about €152,000), increased visibility in the sub-region, networking with other WE4F/PEEPA Regional Innovation Hubs, and support in raising funds from financial and banking institutions.
By the end of the call, 171 applications was submitted. Among these 171, 88 applications were eligible and 30 candidates were shortlisted for the bootcamp. Under the guidance of several specialists, the bootcamp provided a framework for reflection and experience sharing by the candidates before 15 innovators were selected for the WE4F/PEEPA acceleration program.
During the bootcamp, four workshops were organized around regionally-critical themes:
- Experience and challenges of upscaling: bottlenecks, good practices and lessons learned.
- Challenges, issues and prerequisites for SMEs to succeed in raising funds in the West African ecosystem.
- Product and service orientations to satisfy the base of the pyramid in the agricultural and agri-food production sector (challenges and benefits)
- Integration of gender and environmental gains into business processes – why and how?
In addition, the thirty shortlisted candidates were trained in how to pitch their innovation. Afterwards they participated in a pitching contest and were judge by a jury of experts.
WE4F/PEEPA will soon start working with the innovators to scale up their innovative solutions and achieve the program’s objectives by supporting the innovators in not just technical matters, but also financial ones. To do so, WE4F/PEEPA will offer the innovators an on-site diagnosis with its business developers and help develop personalized work plans. The West Africa Regional Innovation Hub will also provide coaching through its business developers and country focal points and organize networking and matchmaking events.
“At the Regional Innovation Hub, we can’t wait to soon start working together with the 15 chosen enterprises and to thereby scale up the innovation champions in West Africa!”
– Yannick Aka, Advisor for Communication and Monitoring and Evaluation at the West Africa Regional Innovation Hub.
For the innovators, by participating in the 12-month program, they commit to staying involved in every activity throughout the program and to implement the work plan developed by the business developers. They will be asked to provide monthly progress reports, be fully transparent with the support team, and show an interest in sharing their experiences and a willingness to take up professional opportunities. WE4F/PEEPA is more than grateful for the high number of applications received and for the rich encounters and lively exchanges that took place during the bootcamp.
About the author:
Yannick Aka, West Africa Regional Innovation Hub, Advisor for Communication and M&E
Yannick holds a Master’s degree in English with a major in American Civilization at the University of Bouaké. After working as head of monitoring and evaluation and of research monitoring-evaluation in NGOs working in the health sector (Association pour la Santé et le Développement Lakota-Divo and Renaissance Santé Bouaké), he was recruited by the Investment Promotion Centre in Côte d’Ivoire as a research officer in the Business Environment Department in charge of the implementation of Business Climate Improvement Reforms for Côte d’Ivoire. Yannick is passionate about comedy, music and sport.