Communication and especially good relationships are essential for strong collaboration between institutions from different sectors. It’s why the West Africa RIH, in partnership with the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE), organised a virtual Business-To-Business (B2B) networking event on November 23rd, 2021. The event fostered dialogue between innovative enterprises and organisations, banking and financial institutions across the 9 countries where the West Africa hub operates.
The purpose of this networking activity is to improveaccess to appropriate financing for innovators and innovative SMEs that offer climate-friendly, energy- and water-efficient solutions for agricultural production. Overall the event was a success – 33 participants attended, including six financial and banking institutions, 11 innovators and innovative companies and 6 technical support staff. During the event, the one-on-one meetings were held as in total 27 virtual parallel sessions.
Virtual Matchmaking for Real Results
For investors, West Africa RIH’s networking event helped them make contacts and take advantage of high-impact business opportunities for resilient agriculture and sustainable community development. For entrepreneurs, the event was an opportunity to showcase the potential of their innovative solutions, connect with other innovators, and raise funds from investors.
By bringing together all water, energy, and food stakeholders, WE4F and ECREEE are working to build a robust enabling environment for the development of the agricultural sector. The networking event is an example of how they’re organizing to promote and facilitate private and public investments in the water-energy-food nexus. By serving as a platform for selected entrepreneurs and financing companies, attendees could explore investment and business financing opportunities, while presenting on the market potential for investment in the water-energy-food nexus. A follow-up event will soon be carried out to identify and quantify the investments raised by the innovative companies and innovators from financial institutions.
Siré Abdoul Diallo, Coordinator of the Private Sector Support Facility at ECREEE, says the following about the B2B event:
“The sector needs to go to scale in terms of promoting innovative solutions and one of the major barriers remains the access to finance. Without the intervention of structures such as WE4F and ECREEE, the dialogue between companies and financial institutions is difficult or non-existent. This first B2B networking event between companies proposing technological and technical innovations in the Water-Energy-Food nexus and investors was a success. Both parties, companies and financial institutions, benefited. This form of technical assistance will have to be accentuated by ECREEE and WE4F in the framework of their collaborations. Putting sixteen private actors together is not an easy task, but ECREEE and WE4F have succeeded. “
Despite the digital format of the event, all the participants – including the West Africa Regional Innovation Hub – fully appreciated the exchanges and left the event inspired and ready to take the next steps for better access to finance.
About the author:
Apolline Roland, West Africa Regional Innovation Hub, Assistant Communication
Apolline studies an international master in security, intelligence and strategic studies between Scotland, Italy and the Czech Republic and supports the West Africa Hub in their entire communication. She wrote this article together with Yannick Aka who is an Advisor for Communication and M&E in the West Africa Hub. For further questions on this article please contact Yannick Aka.