WE4F’s Semi Annual Report: 36 Supported Innovations, $4 million USD Raised in Investment, First Quality of Service Survey Results

Water and Energy for Food has released its semi-annual report detailing the first six months of 2021. Highlighting the 36 innovators supported by the Middle East and North Africa Regional Innovation Hub and the South and Southeast Asia Regional Innovation Hub, the report focuses on the innovators’ ambitious targets, the progress that has been made, and the feedback that will pivot the program, helping it continue to grow and improve in the months ahead.

Executive Summary:

The first six months of 2021 have been successful for the Water and Energy for Food Grand Challenge. The program recruited and started supporting 36 innovations (i.e. innovative locally- implementing small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)). Of the 36, 16 are part of the Middle East and North Africa Regional Innovation Hub (MENA RIH) and 20 as part of the South and Southeast Asia Regional Innovation Hub (S/SEA). In addition, the Southern and Central Africa Regional Innovation Hub (S/ CA RIH) is now operational and will soon recruit new SMEs. Through investment facilitation, WE4F’s RIHs have already supported SMEs in raising $4 million USD in private debt and equity.

Surprisingly, newly supported WE4F innovations have ambitious targets that are beyond those originally set by our RIHs. This is due to the WE4F innovators believing that they will have an impact that is much larger than anticipated. Additionally, the current innovator targets are heavily concentrated in certain countries (i.e., Egypt, Lebanon, and India), this is due to the numerous innovators that are located in each of those countries.

The WE4F team will monitor innovators’ advances and adjust the Hub’s targets based upon on-the-ground achievements. Based on lessons learned from the first Call for Innovations (CFI1), the RIHs have also adjusted their outreach strategies to increase innovator cohorts’ diversity. Their results will contribute to the key performance indicators of:

  • 2.75 million farmers and their families impacted, 30% of which are women
  • 5.3 million tons of food produced
  • 2.1 million tons of food processed
  • 10 billion liters of water consumption reduced
  • $35 million USD in private sector investment mobilized

During the first half of 2021, the WE4F conducted the first RIH Quality of Service Survey (QoSS), which validated that WE4F is moving in the right direction and provided feedback on the ways in which the program can improve:

MENA

S/SEA

  • 94% of innovators found the MENA RIH to be responsive or very responsive
  • 100% of the innovators believe the long-term impact of technical assistance to be positive or very positive
  • 100% of the innovators believe the short-term impact of technical assistance to be positive
  • 35% of the innovators view the document collection process as hard
  • 88% of innovators found the S/SEA RIH to be responsive or very responsive
  • 54% of innovators believe the long-term impact of technical assistance to be positive or very positive
  • 90% of the innovators believe the short-term impact of technical assistance to be positive
  • 16.5% of the innovators view the document collection process as difficult and 41% were neutral

The latter half of 2021 will be dedicated to pivoting the program, so innovators’ feedback is addressed and the program can continue growing:

  • Operational and launch challenges faced by the MENA and S/SEA RIHs will be mitigated during the launch of the Southern and Central Africa Regional Innovation Hub by sharing lessons learned and RIH-to-RIH discussions.
  • Innovator documentation for the Calls for Innovations awardees will be simplified
  • RIHs will increase outreach and develop a focused strategy to target specific countries during the 2021 Regional Calls for Innovations, with more content in local languages and additional outreach methods.
  • Technical assistance (TA) will begin for the CFI1 awardees, with a specific focus on working to better incorporate gender, the environment, and biodiversity.
  • WE4F will pursue local, regional, and international partnerships that bring together water, energy, and agricultural professionals, so the relationships and dialogues can improve the water-energy-food nexus and reduce communication barriers.