Social entrepreneurs and innovators are using tech-based solutions to tackle global poverty, improving the agriculture value chain for farmers, and contributing greatly to the reduction of the world’s growing food insecurity problem. They are designing products and services that improve the working conditions, input materials and output results of smallholder farmers who, despite producing up to 80% of the world’s food supply, face various barriers that hinder efficient and productive agricultural activities.
Through the use of market-based business methods, social entrepreneurs develop cost-effective and innovative solutions that address specific social problems and are intended for low-income end-users who, contrary to traditional development aid, act as clients rather than beneficiaries.
The Grand Challenge Funds Powering Agriculture: An Energy Grand Challenge for Development and Securing Water for Food: A Grand Challenge for Development have supported similar types of innovations, and the success of these projects have led to the creation of the Water and Energy for Food (WE4F) Grand Challenge. The aim of this project is to further support innovators in the agriculture sector and help these develop and strengthen their product/service in order to ensure a large scale impact
Even though a social innovation could have a significant impact on a specific problem and might even be applicable on a large-scale, success of said innovation is not a given.
Even though a social innovation could have a significant impact on a specific problem and might even be applicable on a large-scale, success of said innovation is not a given. Often, social entrepreneurs face limitations to growth and development of their product/ service due to lack of financial resources and non-supportive environments. WE4F has defined the creation of enabling environments and an increased access to financial services as key goals for the project’s success.
To achieve these goals, WE4F will install decentralized regional hubs to provide both financial and non-financial support in the form of brokering units and technical assistance units. Through the hubs, WE4F ensures that innovations are based on local circumstances and needs as well as local culture and language.
The hubs are essential for the development of the enabling environment as they will facilitate the creation and strengthening of partnerships and synergies with relevant regional and local actors as well as offer capacity development and horizontal knowledge exchange within and between hubs. WE4F’s central management unit will bring the lessons learned on local, national and regional levels to global policy debates to initiate activities for enabling environments on a global level.
If you want to learn more about how WE4F establishes enabling environments, see our article on enabling environments.