A Year in Review: Wins and Reflections of South and Southeast Asia Regional Innovation Hub in 2022

A year has passed in the blink of an eye. As we begin 2023, we wanted to reflect on our hub’s achievements and learnings in 2022. Learning from 2021’s challenges and successes, the South and Southeast Asia (S/SEA) region has been able to support more innovators and, consequently, help them impact more smallholder farmers, women, and base of the pyramid populations to produce more food with less water and energy through its full spectrum support. 

Our plans for 2023 are built on the successes and partnerships forged and strengthened in 2022. Let’s take a quick look at our notable highlights from the year gone by:

Announcement of Second Cohort of Prize Winners

In the first quarter of 2022, thirteen new innovators, both profit and non-profit organizations, were onboarded through a second call for innovations. The second Call for Innovations awardees are from seven countries in the region and fall into three major innovation types: water-food technology, energy-food technology, and water-energy-food solutions.

Annual Convening 2022 

The 2022 WE4F Annual Convening was held on November 29– December 1, 2022, in Johannesburg, with more than 175 participants joining from across Asia and Africa. The convening provided an excellent first opportunity for innovators from across the hubs to meet in person, learn about what is happening on the ground, and learn from one another. Most innovators shared that they made a new connection at the convening.

S/SEA Regional Bootcamp 2022

The regional bootcamp was held in Bangkok from May 18 – 20, 2022. Thirty-four innovators participated from Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Thailand and Vietnam. All the attendees were encouraged to participate actively in networking, workshops, and group discussions. Group discussions and workshops covered various innovator and business-focused themes, such as end-user financing, climate adaptation and mitigation, digital platforms for agri services, and gender and climate lens investment.

The Power of Partnerships

2022 was the year of milestones and exciting new partnerships for the hub. The S/SEA RIH partnered with Women on Wings to identify and support India-based WE4F-supported businesses in creating an impact in the water-energy-food nexus by focusing on women-centric business models. This partnership will provide extended support to the WE4F innovators based on a needs assessment done by Women on Wings, and ongoing support and technical assistance will be provided by WE4F for its effective implementation. Additionally, the hub has worked with many other organizations, including Acumen India, Social Enterprise Thailand, New Energy Nexus Thailand, IDH Vietnam, and others, to facilitate different kinds of support and participation in events for our innovators. 

Regional Advisory Board (RAB) Quarterly Meeting

RAB Quarterly Meeting was held in September 2022 to update RAB members on the news and activities of S/SEA innovators and explore their potential collaboration with innovators. With this, the hub has started facilitating mentorship conversations with RAB members and innovators per the interests received. These conversations cover guidance and support on industry insights, business strategies, partnerships, and fundraising.

Workshops and Trainings

  • Voluntary Carbon Offsets: In November 2022, the hub organized a session on the feasibility and process to offset carbon credits with Mike Cipresso, Head of Carbon Finance, Nexus for Development. A total of 37 innovators took part and learned about voluntary carbon markets and how they could help them meet their impact and business goals.
  • Investment Readiness: In October 2022, the hub conducted the first of a series of workshops on Investment Readiness for S/SEA innovators. The session focused on preparedness for fundraising and the elements of approaching investors. The session also explained the investment readiness support that the hub can provide and the process for the same.  
  • Gender Lens Investment: In August 2022, the S/SEA and South and Central Africa hub organized an interactive workshop on Getting ready for gender lens investing. More than 25 innovators participated in the workshop. The hub introduced participants to the Equilo platform for business assessment with a gender lens. The workshop strengthened the understanding of the gender lens investment market and the support available to innovators. This was followed by a webinar by Camille Huret, co-founder of Beyond Finance, to answer questions from innovators on venture debt with a climate and gender lens.

Decarbonize Thailand Symposium 2022

In November 2022, S/SEA RIH participated in the Symposium and moderated the Agriculture Transformation session, where New Leaf Dynamic Technologies was one of the panelists. RecyGlo and New Leaf Dynamic Technologies showcased their innovations, met with government and development officials, and networked with other inspiring businesses in the region.

Webinar on Inclusive Growth: Opportunity, Trend and Best Practices

In August 2022, S/SEA RIH hosted an interactive event on Inclusive Growth: Opportunity, Trend, and Best Practices in collaboration with Social Enterprise Thailand. The Hub Manager moderated the discussion with innovators from Thailand. The Hub’s Technical Assistance Facilitator and Gender Advisor discussed inclusive growth and how the WE4F programme helps innovators be inclusive and sustainable while enabling scale and growth. RecyGlo shared its success story of expanding its businesses to international markets and restructuring its operations by incorporating the inclusive growth model.

World Water Week 2022

Antara Dey Bhowmik, Operations & Commercials Head of ONergy, participated in the World Water Week 2022. She explained ONergy’s business and end-user financing model to improve smallholder farmers’ access to solar-powered irrigation services in the eastern region of India. She emphasized three core areas of their business: technology, energy infrastructure, and financing.

As we put this year behind us, we recognize more challenges ahead. But those challenges can also be opportunities, so we take this time to celebrate the region’s successes as we prepare to build on them in 2023. To learn more, we invite you to explore our website to gain a better understanding of how WE4F is scaling innovations that impact food and water, food and energy, or the water-energy-food nexus to increase the sustainability of agricultural production and food value chains as well as income opportunities in developing countries and emerging markets.