WE4F’s Open Call for Innovations: A Grand Challenge to positively impact Food Security, Gender, and Poverty Reduction

Deadline: Ongoing Opportunity

Water and Energy for Food: A Grand Challenge for Development (WE4F) Call for Innovations is now open 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.

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the European Union (EU), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of the Netherlands, The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) invite eligible organizations to respond to the Open Call for Innovation (O-CFI) Water and Energy for Food: A Grand Challenge for Development (WE4F) Call for Innovations.

WE4F aims to: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
The WE4F Founding Partners have identified priority thematic areas in which innovation is urgently needed as mentioned below. Innovations supported by Water and Energy for Food could include, but are not limited to, the themes mentioned below: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.

Funding Information
Individual awards are expected to range between 40,000 US Dollars and 250,000 US Dollars depending on the type of funding requested with the awardee expected to bring in a minimum 1-1 matching amount themselves. The period of performance for individual awards is up to two years; the actual period of performance for each award will be determined at the time of award.

Target People
WE4F expects to target poor or vulnerable men and women, smallholder farmers and others working in all parts of the agriculture value chain.

Eligibility Criteria
Applicants must meet the following minimum requirements to participate in the call for Water and Energy for Food: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. They encourage applications from small and medium enterprises (SMEs).Location – Southern and Central Africa.Language- Application responses must be written in English or French. However, most correspondence between the hub and the innovator will be in English.Matching funds or cost-sharing –

 All Open Call for Innovation (O-CFI) awardees are required to have at least one-to-one matching funds (cash/cash equivalent) to satisfy the matching requirements. Matching (whether in-kind or cash/cash equivalent) is based on funding provided by WE4F, not the total project budget. For example, applicants who 14 request 100,000 US Dollars (initially) for an innovation would need to provide a minimum of 100,000 US Dollars of in-kind contributions *or* matching funds, making the total project budget 200,000 US Dollars. 

The funds must pay for activities that further the growth, development, or commercialization of the organization’s technology (e.g., manufacturing, distribution, marketing).Local presence – All applicants must use the funds to implement the innovation in the target country(ies). In addition, applicants must either already have a presence in SCA 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.

Applicants from nearly any category of organization or institution are welcome to respond to this solicitation. Specific categories of organizations and institutions that are welcome to respond include, but are not limited to, for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, and regional organizations. Water and Energy for Food welcomes and encourages high-quality applications, especially from women-owned/women-led enterprises and entrepreneurs from developing countries.
Note: Government entities and individuals are not eligible to apply for funding.


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