Southern and Central Africa Regional Innovation Hub

Context

The Southern and Central Africa Regional Innovation Hub (S/CA RIH) represents a vast, culturally diverse, and complex territory of 12 countries. The people who live here face multiple challenges, including desertification, water scarcity, energy insecurity, food insecurity, environmental degradation, unemployment, and gender inequality.

Agriculture is the main livelihood for 60% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa and accounts for 23% of the continent’s GDP. However, efforts to scale the sector and increase food security are negatively impacted by resource constraints, political instability, and climate change. Additionally, Southern Africa and Central Africa’s biodiversity and ecosystem services are under pressure from unsustainable agricultural practices.

With better resource efficiency and investment in innovative solutions, yields could be tripled, ecosystems protected, climate resilience increased, and poverty reduced

About Us

To be a game-changing force for developing the sustainability and climate resilience of the region’s agricultural sector, the S/CA RIH works with organizations that have water-food, energy-food, and water-energy-food innovations. These organizations receive technical assistance, grants, and investment facilitation to help them scale and reach more smallholder farmers. The support is provided by local experts who understand regional challenges and opportunities and can work across sectors to leverage investment and strengthen the enabling environments.

By 2024, the Southern and Central Africa Regional Innovation Hub will:

  • Identify and fund at least 30 WE4F innovators across the region
  • Support innovators in reaching a minimum of 1 million smallholder farmers, including 300,000 women
  • Increase investment to innovators by at least US$ 7.5 million

Hub Activities

Grants for Innovative Enterprises

The S/CA RIH aims to attract progressive and successful organizations working to sustainably  transform the food value chain. Through Regional Call for Innovations, established enterprises or nonprofit operating in the region can apply for support and may qualify for a customized support package of technical assistance, grant funding, or investment facilitation.

Sign up for our WE4F Newsletter to learn when the Call for Innovations opens and for supporting events such as the Webinar Series.

Technical Assistance

The Technical Assistance Unit is led by Tetra Tech and made up of several key experts in the fields of business development, sustainable agriculture, energy and water, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) integration, gender equality and social inclusion, and local investment. The experts work in an integrated manner to break dsilos between water, energy, and food, achieving the innovator’s business objectives.

The S/CA RIH already works with legacy innovators who participated in Securing Water for Food (SWFF) and demonstrated potential to influence the water-food-energy nexus under WE4F.

The S/C Africa RIH will also work with external technical experts and consultancies to deliver targeted technical assistance. Service providers operating in the region that would like to submit their interest and register on our database of suppliers, should review the EOI from Vendors document and apply here. Review the vendor Q&A document here.

Investment Facilitation

The Brokering Unit is responsible for attracting new investors and working with innovators to make their business offering more appealing to investors. Led by Open Capital Advisors, the goal of the Brokering Unit is to unlock an additional $7.5 million in funding for the Regional Innovation Hub.

Learn more about the WE4F Expression of Interest from Investors.

Review the S/CA EOI from Investors document. 

Submit your Expression of Interest. 

Enabling Environment

The Enabling Environment Unit (EE Unit), led by International Water Management Institute (IWMI) will support innovators by:

  • Removing barriers that prevent the ease of doing business in the region
  • Navigating local policy and regulatory frameworks
  • Helping them meet the requirements for compliance
  • Advocating for better policy integration across the water-energy-food nexus

To accomplish this, the EE Unit will undertake policy analysis to look for obstacles and synergies that can support the adoption of nexus thinking. Enabling Environment Country Profiles will also be developed and will detail the policy climate in each S/CA RIH-supported country.

Communication and Knowledge Transfer

Communications and knowledge management works hand-in-hand with the Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning Specialist to extract lessons learned from the implementation of the WE4F program. These lessons learned are then used as recommendations for future water-energy-food strategies and to help WE4F pivot, resulting in a broader social and environmental impact. WE4F also produces several knowledge products that help innovators reach more smallholder farmers and integrate best practices into their operations.

The Team in Southern and Central Africa

Evans Chinembiri

Regional Innovation Hub Manager, Tetra Tech

Evans Chinembiri is a seasoned development professional with experience managing large and complex, high-profile donor-assisted programs in Southern Africa.  His expertise is in leading teams, program design and management, market systems analysis, value chain analysis, and implementing market-led development approaches. He holds an MSc in Agricultural Economics from the University of Pretoria and an MCom in Management Practice from the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business. 

Mashiri Zvarimwa

 

Technical Assistance Facilitator, Tetra Tech

Mashiri Zvarimwa is an Agri-business and digital innovation expert with extensive regional and international experience spanning over 15 years. He has worked with international development missions like the European Commission providing advisory services on transformation strategies for African agriculture. Mashiri has made several professional engagements with the United Nations’ Rome-based Agencies on various agricultural policy themes, advocating for meaningful youth engagement in the design and execution of agri-food policies.  Mashiri holds a BSc (Hons) in Agriculture from the University of Zimbabwe as well as an MBA from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom. He is passionate about creating ecosystems of entrepreneurship and innovation as drivers of agri-food systems transformation.

Gabriella Makonese

Grants and Finance Specialist, Tetra Tech

Gabriella Makonese is a specialist in grants/awards project design, project cycle and financial management. She has extensive experience in regional and international development, supporting innovative development initiatives in various African countries. Her cross sectoral experience spans the private sector, public sector, civil society, and knowledge partners (academics and research institutions). She has supported large-scale projects for socio-economic development in sectors that include Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), local economic development, education, health and livelihoods.  She holds a BA in Business Management from the University of Greenwich in the United Kingdom and Public Administration (Hons) from the University of South Africa. She is driven by making a difference in the lives of others.

Ewan Bloomfield

Energy-Agriculture Expert, Tetra Tech

Dr Ewan Bloomfield has over 20 years’ experience in business development of sustainable and low-carbon energy for development throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Ewan has been providing tailored technical assistance to a range of low-carbon energy and off-grid energy and agriculture Productive Use of Energy (PUE) projects throughout Sub-Saharan Africa as a senior technical advisor for USAID’s Power Africa, as well as policy support, the development of sustainable business models, design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation. He recently served as Technical Director of FCDO’s ACE TAF project, which included the design and implementation of market assessments, and then additional market updates following the COVID-19 pandemic, in all 14 countries in Southern, East and West Africa. Ewan lives in South Africa.

She also worked in private companies within several business sectors (i.e., medical equipment, automobile, green energy, oil and gas, etc.). She was a Senior Executive Assistant to CEO in Triton Green Energy working in the conversion of waste to energy business. Supaporn holds a Master of Business Administration in Business Strategy from Asian Institute of Technology, received His Majesty the King’s Scholarships from Royal Thai Government and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management (Honor) from Prince of Songkhla University. Supaporn is based in Bangkok, Thailand.

Mashudu Mabela

Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Specialist, Tetra Tech

Mashudu Mabela is a Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning specialist with more than five years experience in delivering complex projects. Mashudu holds a bachelor’s degree in Information Systems and Information Technology Management majoring in business analysis with Tshwane University of Technology. She also holds an Advanced Certificate in Monitoring and Evaluation from Foundation for Professional Development. She pursued this work because of her dedication and passion for international development. Mashudu derives satisfaction in her ability to make a difference by leveraging her skills in improving the lives of the marginalized communities.

Kristina Gubic

Communications and Knowledge Management Specialist, Tetra Tech

Kristina Gubic has 20 years’ experience spanning environmental journalism, communications for international development and social impact reporting for corporate social responsibility and nonprofits in over 400 rural communities across Southern and East Africa. Her focus areas include enterprise development for rural communities, ecotourism, small-scale farming, WASH and climate change. Kristina is an alumna of the British Council Pan African Leadership Program InterAction and the GIZ Climate Leadership Program; fostering south-south collaboration between South Africa and Indonesia. She has raised over $100,000 for clean water projects and has mentored two Mandela Washington Fellows from Benin and Madagascar. She served as Development Outreach and Communications Specialist for the USAID South Africa Low Emissions Program and provided strategic communications support for the EU Support for Integrated Catchment Management in Lesotho. She has studied Zoology and Environment Management, holds an Honours Degree in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of Witwatersrand and is pursuing her Masters in Development Studies and Sociology.

Kim James

Administrative and Accounting Specialist, Tetra Tech

Ms. Kim James is a highly equipped administrative and financial assistant with more than eight years of experience with local and international organizations. She is currently the Office Manager for Tetra Tech’s corporate office in South Africa and provides administrative support to the WE4F Regional Innovation Hub. She previously worked on USAID’s Power Africa Communications Support Program (PACS).  In 2015, Ms. James joined the USAID Power Africa Transactions and Reforms Program (PATRP) as the office receptionist and later became the administrative assistant offering day-to-day support to PATRP staff, local and international travel coordination, and visa application support. She also played a logistics role in the 2019 PATRP conference held in South Africa. Prior to Tetra Tech, Ms. James formed part of the Sanlam Personal Finance team and served as the Management Support Assistant. She later was promoted to Administrative Assistant to the Head of Agriculture. She has worked with a diverse array of people and organizations. 

Annie Roberts

Head of Capital Markets, Open Capital Advisors

Annie is a founding Partner of Open Capital Advisors, a management consulting & financial advisory firm with more than 140 full-time staff in Africa. Over 10 years with the firm, she has supported dozens of engagements spanning business, investor, and development partner clients. Her industry experience ranges from agribusiness to logistics & distribution, manufacturing, renewable energies, healthcare, education, and fast-moving consumer goods — she is particularly passionate about building collaborations through eco-system approaches and has served on the Executive Committee of the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs for the past 5 years. Annie joined Open Capital from The Boston Consulting Group’s Chicago office.

Chris Mrema

Investment Principal, Open Capital Advisors

Chris is a Principal based in Nairobi, Kenya. He has 20+ years of experience in management consulting and investment banking supporting global multinationals. In the past Chris has advised global companies on strategic initiatives ranging from digital strategy to operational excellence and merger integration. Chris led the Strategic Planning department at a major US renewable energy company for several years where he developed business development and market entry strategies leading to a 3X increase in installed capacity over 2 years. Most recently, Chris was Senior Principal at Accenture in Houston where he supported multinationals in developing their digital transformation strategy. Chris received his B.A. in Economics & Computer Science from Macalester College and his MBA from the Harvard Business School.

Aulelieu Makondo

Investment Facilitator, Open Capital Advisors

Aulelieu is an Analyst at Open Capital Advisors based in Lusaka, Zambia where he supports the Southern Central Africa team on numerous investment readiness projects including the development of businesses pipeline, pre-investment support and transaction structuring. Prior to Open Capital, Aulelieu supported investments and investment readiness projects in Small & Growth Businesses in Zambia with a focus on manufacturing, mining, agriculture, and technology sectors. He also worked for the Ministry of Energy, Zambia where he supported government policy formulation in the petroleum and renewable energy subsectors. He holds a BSc. in Economics from St. Petersburg State University of Economics and Finance, Russia.

Dr. Inga Jacobs-Mata

Policy Advisor, IWMI

Inga is the Regional Representative for the International Water Management Institute’s Southern Africa regional office, where she leads a dynamic multi-disciplinary team of researchers and support staff working throughout SADC to advance water’s role in systems transformation. She is a political scientist and has a PhD in International Relations from St-Andrews University, Scotland. She specializes in water governance with 15 years of experience in transboundary water governance (particularly cooperative governance in Africa), science communication, and research impact and uptake. Current areas of focus: the politics of climate change; operationalizing the water-energy-food nexus and its governance frameworks; water stewardship; community-based approaches/supported self-supply; hybrid water law; environmental migration.

Before joining IWMI, Inga was the research group leader of the integrated water solutions group at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and the Executive Manager: Business Development, Marketing and Communications at the Water Research Commission in South Africa.

Bhekiwe Fakudze

Policy and Regulatory Coordinator, IWMI

Bhekiwe is a Research Officer at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) focusing on policy analysis, support for smallholder farmers, drought monitoring and early warning systems, food price monitoring, and the water-energy-food nexus. She is also a newly appointed Ministerial trustee of the Winter Cereal Trust in South Africa. 

Bhekiwe previously worked as a Researcher at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) focusing on the assessment of Food and Nutrition Security information systems, the Land Size and Efficiency Simulation (LSES) Project and the Innovation Partnership for Rural Development Program (IPRDP). 

Bhekiwe currently holds an MSc degree in Agricultural Economics obtained from the University of Pretoria, South Africa and is a PhD candidate in the same field.

Manuel Magombeyi

WE4F Water-Agriculture Expert, IWMI

Dr Manuel S. Magombeyi is a Hydrology-Hydrogeology-Water Resources Management regional researcher at the International Water Management Institute’s Southern Africa regional office, South Africa. He is a Civil & Water Engineer, and holds a PhD from University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. He has devoted most of his practice to improving sustainable use of groundwater-surface water for improving community livelihoods and the environment for the last fifteen years. He has extensive experience in surface and groundwater management in Southern and West Africa. His recent activities and expertise include quantification of groundwater recharge using different techniques including isotopic tracers, artificial recharge and recovery, groundwater and surface water monitoring field instrumentation and stakeholder awareness raising on groundwater-surface water management. His current research interests include risk assessment of upscaling smallholder farmer solar irrigation pumping in Sub Saharan Africa on groundwater quantity and quality, quantification of groundwater contribution to Environmental Water Flows in arid and semi-arid environments and application of systems thinking in water management.

Before joining IWMI, Manuel was an integrated water resources management researcher at the Association for Water and Rural Development (AWARD), in South Africa.

Who We Are

The Southern and Central Regional Innovation Hub is located in Pretoria, South Africa and implemented by three leading international organizations who have decades of experience advocating for inclusive and equitable economic growth, gender equality, sustainable agriculture, and the sustainable use of energy, water, and other natural resources in the region.

Tetra Tech, is a leading provider of high-end consulting and engineering services for more than 30 agricultural and economic growth projects worldwide. Tetra Tech has managed development projects on every continent, providing clear solutions to complex problems in water, environment, sustainable infrastructure, and renewable energy. Through Powering Agriculture and Power Africa, Tetra Tech has support over 200 off-grid companies in Africa working in the nexus

Open Capital Advisors (OCA) is a management consulting and financial advisory firm that drives growth, enables investment, and builds markets across Africa. To date, Open Capital has supported more than 1,000 engagements across 25 countries on the continent and facilitated over $1 billion worth of investment. Open Capital’s Zambia office will lead the Regional Innovation Hub’s Brokering Unit, tasked with investment facilitation and transaction advisory services for select innovators.

International Water Management Institute (IWMI) is an international research for development (R4D) organization focusing on water and land management challenges faced by poor communities in developing countries, and through this contributes towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). IWMI is a Research Center of CGIAR, the global research partnership for a food-secure future. Leading the WE4F S/C Africa RIH Enabling Environment Unit, IWMI advocates for integrated thinking and policy alignment that considers the water, food and energy nexus and supports sustainable food production.

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