Tips for prospective applicants to the S/ SEA RIH Call for Innovations

The Water and Energy for Food (WE4F) Grand Challenge’s South and Southeast Asia Call for Innovation targets mid-to later- stage organizations with a demonstrated track record in delivering innovative water and/or energy saving solutions to end-users in the agriculture and food value chains in the South and Southeast Asia (S/SEA) region. We seek organizations from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor Leste and Vietnam. Applicants should have the drive and potential to use private capital to scale their operations and help reach WE4F’s goal of supporting one million smallholder farmers and end-users, with a focus on women and vulnerable communities in S/SEA, in adopting innovative energy or water-efficient solutions. 

Through this blog, we hope to provide you with some tips on how to best prepare your application for the Call for Innovations.


Prepare your responses ahead of time: We recommend that you review our first Call for InnovationQ&A webinar session and download the Q&A document to get familiar with the program background. You can also read our first cohort winner profiles to get an overview of the winning companies last year.


Give yourself at least two weeks to complete the applications: The Concept Note and Full Proposal applications require thoughtful, thorough, and well supported answers. You will be expected to complement several questions with documentation and calculations to back up your responses (e.g., action plans, business models, budgets, financial statements, etc.). The application has questions about your product, service, or business model’s commercial viability of the model and its impact on women and youth, base of pyramid populations, and the environment.

While we found this process to be a very useful investment for the applicants, it is time consuming and requires multiple iterations to perfect. We estimate that the Concept Note application could take four to six hours and the Full Proposal could take 16 to 32 hours to complete. We also recommend that you factor in time for peer review. 

The application platform, SMApply, allows for you to save your answers at different points. This means you can start the online SMApply application and edit your responses as you go. You can also watch the step-by-step application demo videos for the guideline on how to navigate the platform.


Refer to existing publications, national statistical agencies, and other reputable bodies to quantify the problem you are solving, the market gap, and your social, environmental, and/or economic impact. Sample resources and references: 

WE4F Resources
Climate mitigation and adaptation
Energy, water, food, and agriculture market outlooks:
Gender Integration


Watch our Second Call for Innovations Q&A session webinar and view the Q&A document.