Open Call for Zimbabwe Biogas Innovation Grand Challenge

Deadline: Ongoing Opportunity

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) invites eligible organizations to respond to the Zimbabwe Biogas Open Call for Innovation Water and Energy for Food: A Grand Challenge for Development Call for Innovations.

This Zimbabwe Biogas Open Call for Innovation (O-CFI) is designed to address barriers to enable the production of more food with efficient and sustainable usage of water and energy along the value chain from farming to end-users, and to impact food security, gender, and poverty reduction in an environmentally sustainable way.

Water & Energy for Food (WE4F) Aims
Increase food production along the value chain through a more sustainable and efficient usage of water and/or energy.
Increase income for base of the pyramid (BoP) women and men in both rural and urban areas working in farming and/or consuming food products.

Sustainably scale the Organizations’ solutions to meet the challenges in the WE4F nexus.

Promote climate and environmental resilience and biodiversity through the sustainable, holistic management of natural resources and ecosystems.


Thematic Areas
Theme 1: Innovations in food production to reduce water usage
Theme 2: Efficient use of water resources for food production
Theme 3: Sustainable use of energy and water on farm
Theme 4: Energy innovations for food processing & logistics
Theme 5: Food production with efficient energy use
Theme 6: Leveraging food/agriculture waste for energy.


Priority Organizations and Innovations
Biogas Systems in Zimbabwe: As this part of the O-CFI program is specifically for Zimbabwe Biogas, innovators must already be manufacturing, installing, distributing and/or selling biogas systems in Zimbabwe.

Digital solutions: This includes Innovations which are digital in nature and improve the use of biogas systems.
Financial solutions: This includes Innovations which improve the financial access or financial resources of biogas systems.

Women-led, managed, or owned organizations or organizations with a track record of serving at least thousands of female-end biogas users.

Organizations which demonstrate strong capabilities to monitor and document key programmatic KPIs such as the end-users benefitting from biogas systems (e.g., through CRM systems, data loggers, etc.).
Organizations that have a clear positive environmental impact and impact on Base of the Pyramid (BoP) and vulnerable communities through the provision of biogas systems.
The program is targeting biogas organizations established or operating only in Zimbabwe

Funding Information
The Zimbabwe Biogas Call for Innovations awards range from US$10,000 to $30,000.
The period of performance for individual awards is up to 1.5 years, however the actual period of performance for each award will be determined at the time of award.

Eligibility Criteria
Type – WE4F is open to legally incorporated / registered for-profit and not-for-profit organizations or academic institutions which are responsible for generating revenue and maintaining a self-sustaining operational budget (i.e., covering costs). In addition, these organizations should be able to demonstrate a revenue track record selling the water-energy-food nexus-relevant product or service. WE4F is focused on financially viable businesses or organizations that can showcase a proven and sustainable revenue model.

Size – Water and Energy for Food call is open to all relevant organizations/companies regardless of size. We encourage applications from small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Location – Zimbabwe.

Language- Application responses must be written in English.

Matching funds or cost-sharing – All Zimbabwe Biogas Open Call for Innovation (O-CFI) awardees are required to contribute matching funds to satisfy the matching requirements of this OCFI, this can include in-kind contributions, such as staff time, resources or donations from their company to the project. Matching is based on funding provided by WE4F, not the total project budget.

Local presence – All applicants must use the funds to implement the innovation in Zimbabwe. In addition, applicants must either already have a presence in Zimbabwe or must have a local partner active and operational since at least January 2023 (supporting documentation required).

Impact – Innovations must have a direct linkage between water/energy and the food value chain. Applicants must demonstrate that they are not causing any negative harm to the environment like increased water usage or biodiversity loss. In addition, innovations must directly or indirectly benefit the poor (income, products, opportunities). In addition, applications must contribute to gender equality and strive for a positive impact on the environment while avoiding negative environmental effects and local market distortions.

Data collection – Applicants must have in place proven data collection tools and/or processes that capture the number of end-users, contact details, addresses, income category per quintile, and gender amongst others. If the applicant’s main clients are points of sales, distributors, i.e., work on a B2B basis, their direct clients’ end-users will still need to be reported as per the aforementioned criterion.

What Will Not Be Funded?
Innovations that fail to clearly demonstrate how they can eventually ensure sustainable benefits in line with the development purpose of WE4F (e.g., enhanced value of the agricultural chain, promotion of food security, sustainable management of natural (including water) resources and ecosystems, increased broad-based economic growth in developing or emerging countries, and a focus on impacting women and the poor).

Innovations that fail to clearly demonstrate their positive impact on the poor and women.

Innovations that fail to demonstrate their positive impact on the environment (including natural resource management, water resource management, climate resilience, and biodiversity).

Innovations focused on research and development for a product without a clearly defined market or potential for commercialization or growth to a minimum of hundreds of thousands of Customers/end-users within a five-year timeframe. Innovations without potential or intent for commercialization do not fit within the scope of this challenge.

Biogas technologies that have not reached a minimum Customer base of 1,000 end-users. If the business model is B2B, then combined end-users of all direct Customers should be more than 1,000.
Innovations that do not have operations in Zimbabwe.

Innovations focused on sustainable water supply and energy access without an explicit benefit to the food sector. This agriculture link must have been demonstrated through the organization’s existing customer base.

Innovations focused on agricultural products and services without a significant and sustainable water or energy component.

Organizations using or promoting the usage of pesticides either directly or indirectly in their operations.

Products/solutions that require any sort of construction or land development/levelling activities.

Large dam projects for water capture and storage.

Solar/renewable energy mini/micro/Pico grid projects that lack an explicit and inherent benefit to the food value chain.
Wastewater treatment projects that lack an explicit and inherent benefit to the food value chain.
Large pipeline infrastructure projects.
One-off water/energy technology installations or pilot projects to support proven technologies for proven applications.

Established and large companies whose technologies are already used throughout the eligible countries.

Organizations promoting the use of fossil fuels.

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