Southern and Central Africa Regional Innovation Hub


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 250,000 women
  • Increase investment to innovators by at least $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 down silos 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 compliance requirements
  • 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.

Open RFPs

Activity: Capacity building for sustainable fishing and resource use in Lake Lere

RFP Issue Date: September 20, 2023

Questions Submission Date: September 26, 2023; 4:00 PM CAT

Proposals Submission Date: October 3, 2023; 4:00 PM CAT

Award Anticipated Date: October 10, 2023

Activity: Financial management capacity building

RFP Issue Date: September 20, 2023

Questions Submission Date: September 26, 2023; 4:00 PM CAT

Proposals Submission Date: October 3, 2023; 4:00 PM CAT

Award Anticipated Date: October 10, 2023

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.

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.

Martin Slawek

Investment Principal, Open Capital Advisors

Martin is a Principal at Open Capital with deep experience in agriculture and food security space across Sub-Saharan Africa and oversees much of Open Capital’s work in Zambia and Southern Africa. He has supported various USAID and other large donor programs such as the Kenya Investment Mechanism (KIM), EDGE, Musika, Energy Catalyst Acceleration Programme (ECAP) among others, and brings extensive expertise in strategy consulting and financial advisory, supporting agriculture SME’s and their management teams develop organizational strategies, expand and scale their operations, enter new markets, become investment ready, and raise capital from a range of public and private financial investors. He is also an expert at blended finance and investment
mobilization, having worked with impact investors, foundations, bilaterals and multilaterals, and DFIs to develop innovative capital structures. Prior to Open Capital, Martin was a Manager at ISF Advisors, a boutique agriculture finance advisory firm spun out of Dalberg, as well as an investment banker with Bank of America Merrill Lynch and on the capital markets team at CWT in New York. Martin has published and contributed to numerous thought pieces in the agriculture space, including the “2019 Pathways to Prosperity: Rural and
Agricultural Finance State of the Sector report”, “Inflection Point: Unlocking Growth in the Era of Farmer Finance”, and “The Fund Manager Perspective: Moving the Needle on Inclusive Agribusiness”.

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.

Batanayi Colletta

Gender Equality and Social Inclusion Advisor, Tetra Tech

Batanayi is an experienced Programmes Manager, Expert GESI Strategist, Qualitative Researcher, Evaluator and published author who is passionate about inclusive development. Batanayi has 13 years solid experience in full time, part time and long term programme implementation, monitoring and evaluation in various field of infrastructural development, water and sanitation, food and water security, biodiversity, surface and groundwater management, natural resources management, microfinance, women, youth and persons with disabilities empowerment, governance and leadership. This experience is in the Southern and Central Africa region with current active assignments in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Chad, CAR, DRC, Angola, Zambia, South Africa,
Eswatini and Lesotho. Her experience includes individual consultancy work, as a team and or full time employment with regular overlapping assignments.

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.

Jacquie Eale

Francophone Country Coordinator, Tetra Tech

Jacquie EALE is a Trade and Business development specialist with more than 7 years of experience with local an international organization. Jacquie is passionate about building the best relationship within the African continent to improve the life of people in rural areas and making an impact in the community. She is currently the Administrative assistant at the GICHON MINING DRC and part time consultant as the Francophone Country Coordinator for the WE4F. Jacquie holds a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology from CTI Education group in Pretoria and a system development diploma from the London school of Business Management. With a background in HR management, her experience include employee’s relation, strategic programming and organizational development.

Tebogo Masombuka

Communications and Knowledge Management Specialist, Tetra Tech

Tebogo Masombuka is a communications specialist with an extensive background in the science and development industry. She has over eight years of experience supporting project managers and technical teams in researching, implementing, and scaling up enterprises. Her sector experience includes mainly agriculture, agro-processing, and bioscience.

She has a BA Honours and a BA in Communications from the University of Johannesburg. Her core expertise is in corporate writing for marketing material like corporate profiles, case studies, brochures, and social media campaigns and editing for business reporting material like strategies and implementation plans.

Tebogo is committed to helping technical teams to simplify their content for communication impact. Her passion for practicality is what drives her.

Taryn Bigwood

Environmental Sustainability Advisor, Tetra Tech

Promoting a resilient environment, combating climate change and promote sustainability through the implementation of Environmental Sustainability Goals and best practices resonates as Taryn’s core philosophy. The projects she has been involved with relate largely to water, energy, mining, waste, and infrastructure development.

She has been committed to keeping current in the industry of environmental management and am always willing to share her knowledge. She has a combined 17 years of experience. Her field of expertise was developed from experience in conservation, scientific services, ecological reporting, energy in the SADC, Renewable energy (Solar (PV, CSP, Solar Home systems, mini grids, transmission lines, Wind and hydroelectric power), mining, Environmental Compliance (Grade 2 Environmental Management Inspector), Environmental licensing, working with Resettlement Actions Plans (RAP), working with the RAP team, developing environmental and social sections in operation and maintenance manuals, project implementation and management, developing Environmental Management Systems (EMS), developing protected area management plans, contributing to the development of Climate Change Reports, Environmental auditing, capacity building on an a number of areas in the environmental field (including energy and water), skills transfers in the Environmental Components of Project Management offices (PMO) on EMS’s, water resource development and
training EMI on key legislation and utilities on ESM’s.

Her extended experience also includes a wide range of environmentally related projects, processes, and applications for private, commercial, and industrial clients, in addition to local, provincial, and national government departments.

Nawa Sarafina Luywa

Zambia Country Coordinator, Tetra Tech

Nawa Luywa has 8years experience in project management, change management and organizational strategy development, offering sharp time management, organizational and support skills. Personable individual willing to work hard and take on any task. Considerate, professional, experienced in putting quality control procedures to work, streamlining procedures while optimizing employee talent and implementing learning
and development strategies that improve staff and organization performance. Goal-oriented manager with distinguished experience in Non-Governmental Organizations, proven leadership abilities in supporting the development of SME with business skills, capacity building, technical assistance and creating networks. Nawa is passionate about doing your part in creating the world we all need and want to see.

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.

Mupangi Sithole

SACU+M Country Coordinator, Tetra Tech

Mupangi is a seasoned agribusiness and rural development expert with some strong technical & business advisory service and project management experience spanning for more than fifteen (15) years. He has worked with several UN development agencies, NGOs, African governments, and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat to deliver economic growth, reduce hunger and gender equality in Sub-Saharan Africa via private sector-led agricultural/agribusiness initiatives and application of innovative financing mechanisms in ‘tough’ crisis/fragile development contexts. His past roles also include regional agro-supply chain development and intra-African trade promotion, blended finance instrument architecture, operational  and business strategy formulation for agribusiness – corporates and SMEs alike, resource mobilization and promote impact investment, grant/loan administration, project management, stakeholder capacity building, sector studies & business diagnostics, M&E system development, agribusiness research and consultancy, business and value chain greening, value-chain finance including agri-financial technology accelerators, market linkage and market systems development through smallholder farmer inclusive business modeling. In the agricultural sector, he has worked with more than ninety (90) large corporates, and small-to-medium-sized enterprises, over five hundred (500+) entrepreneurs and start-ups and over fifty (50+) civic organizations as implementing partners. Mupangi has spent 8years at Technoserve Zimbabwe, and 5years at UNDP’s Africa Sustainable Finance Hub, supporting private sector.

Ojongetakah Enokenwa Baa

Gender and Social Inclusion (GESI) Agribusiness Expert, IWMI-South Africa

Ojong is a Social Environmentalist working in the fields of Gender, Sociology, Anthropology, International Relations, and Environmental Science. She has worked with KORUMO Coaching for Transformation, South Africa where as a Gender Trainer and Stakeholder Facilitator, as well as a Gender Consultant with the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). She holds a PhD in Environmental Science from Rhodes University, South Africa, a Master of Science in International Relations Institute of Cameroon- University of Yaounde II, Cameroon, and a Master of Science in Women and Gender Studies from the University of Buea, Cameroon.

At IWMI, she is responsible for providing technical expertise for activities associated with supply-side inclusive finance for agribusinesses, and gender and social inclusion, new and on-going GESI and agribusiness activities and applied, transdisciplinary scientific research. She works with multidisciplinary teams and relevant public, private and grassroots stakeholders to develop comprehensive GESI strategies specifically the Regional Integrated Initiative for East and Southern Africa, Ukama Ustawi (UU). The aim is to implement and communicate GESI related activities for inclusive and gender-transformative agribusinesses in East and Southern Africa, and Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Ethiopia specifically. Within the WE4F program, Ojong supports the Enabling Environment Unit (EEU) to provide technical assistance to innovators on gender equality, poverty reduction, and the environment as connected to the water, energy, and food nexus.

Hlologelo Seete

Program Assistant, Tetra Tech

Hlologelo Seete is a qualified electrical engineer with three years of experience in project management specializing in design, coordination, and project operational support.  Hlologelo holds a Bachelor of Technology in Electrical Engineering from Tshwane University of Technology. She has worked with government institutions, energy utilities, and defense systems manufacturers, where she provided crucial technical support within a collaborative team environment and facilitated the efficient and effective work of technicians and assemblers, contributing to achieving production targets. Hlologelo has also overseen diverse projects involving electrical reticulation, maintenance, and upgrades within local communities, working alongside the public energy utility and government institutions in South Africa. As an intern at the USAID-administered WE4F SCA Hub, she provided program support to the team, developed a biogas market expansion report for one of Zimbabwe’s leading biogas companies, and supported the coordination and logistics of regional and international convenings. She aspires to work on projects that have a positive social impact on people.

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 supported over 200 off-grid companies in Africa working in the water-energy-food 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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