The Land Accelerator
Land Accelerator Africa
Applications for the Land Accelerator 2023 are now closed.
See the Land Accelerator FAQs and Application Guide in English PDF and French PDF. We will communicate when the next round of applications opens.
What is the Land Accelerator Africa?
In 2018, World Resources Institute (WRI) launched the Land Accelerator Africa, the world’s first training and mentorship program targeted specifically toward businesses that restore degraded forests, farmland and pasture.
To support the AFR100 Initiative’s goal of restoring 100 million hectares of land by 2030, the Land Accelerator provides entrepreneurs across Africa with mentorship and networking opportunities, technical training and workshops to build up their storytelling and pitching skills.
Participants leave the program more empowered to connect with potential investors so that they can take their business to the next stage of growth. The program has attracted nearly 3,400 applicants in Africa since 2018, and its 196 alumni from 45 countries report that they have created 9,000 jobs, worked with 250,000 farmers and restored 201,000 hectares.
What does the program look like?
Since 2021, WRI and our partners at AFR100 and Fledge have invited a cohort of 100 top land restoration entrepreneurs from across the continent to join us for a virtual business accelerator. Restoration entrepreneurs are invited to apply from all sub-Saharan African countries, free of charge.
The Top 100 will benefit from:
- 3 months of exclusive weekly trainings from experts.
- 3 months of access to Fledge’s online lessons for start-ups.
- Templates to create content to help your business thrive.
- Weekly office hours with mentors who will lend their expertise.
- Weekly networking sessions to speak with and learn from other entrepreneurs in your cohort.
- Those who meet all program attendance requirements will receive a $5000 innovation grant.
By the end of the program, entrepreneurs will have access to trainings and tools to complete:
- A compelling one-minute pitch to hook investors, customers and potential partners.
- A 10 to 12 slide pitch deck targeted toward investors.
- An environmental indicator measurement, management and marketing plan.
- A three- to five-year financial model to visualize their growth projections and to identify capital needs.
- Increased confidence in their business’s mission and operations.
The top 100 entrepreneurs who complete the virtual training are invited to apply for a Land Accelerator investment pack, which will be awarded to the Top 15 entrepreneurs.
Recipients of the investment packs will benefit from:
- An innovation grant of at least $5,000 each.
- A coaching meeting with a Land Accelerator organizer to develop an investment and innovation grant plan.
- A 90-minute group session with members of the Land Accelerator mentor network, who provided tailored feedback.
- A one-on-one call with a Land Accelerator mentor to provide feedback and a thorough review of all the materials submitted throughout the program.
- The opportunity to present a three-minute business pitch at the virtual or in-person Land Accelerator Demo Day, that brings together the awardees and investors from across the continent.
- The opportunity to meet fellow entrepreneurs in-person at the Land Accelerator Impact Days in Malawi to be held Oct 16-20, 2023 to learn from both leading entrepreneurs and trainers.
The 2022 Land Accelerator Africa | Virtual and in Kigali, Rwanda | October 2022
The Land Accelerator Africa worked with 100 local businesses from 27 countries for its fourth cohort. The top 16 entrepreneurs received a $2,500 innovation grant and presented their businesses to a room of investors in Kigali, Rwanda in October 2022, as part of the Land Accelerator Impact Days 2022. Watch them pitch!
The 2021 Land Accelerator Africa | Virtual and Nairobi, Kenya | November 2021
The Land Accelerator Africa worked with 78 local businesses from 27 countries for its third cohort. Each entrepreneur received a $5,000 innovation grant, and the top 15 presented their businesses to a virtual room of investors. They also came together in Nairobi for a week-long training. Watch them pitch!
The 2019 Land Accelerator Africa | Nairobi, Kenya | September 2019
Out of the 335 businesses that applied to the 2019 Land Accelerator, 14 entrepreneurs from 8 African countries joined us in Nairobi. After a week of training from investors, alumni, and technical experts, they pitched to a room full of investors and entrepreneurs. Watch their pitches here!
Land Accelerator Niger | Niamey, Niger | March 2019
WRI convened 11 Nigerien restoration entrepreneurs to accelerate investment in the country’s promising agriculture sector. Over this two-day workshop, the participants learned how to integrate resilience to climate change into their business models and present their companies to impact investors.
The 2018 Land Accelerator Africa | Nairobi, Kenya | December 2018
The first Land Accelerator brought together 12 restoration entrepreneurs from across Africa to Nairobi to learn how to scale up their businesses. Some have already seen success: One business raised $100,000 and received several large orders, while another won a $10,000 cash prize for its pitch. Learn more here.
World Resources Institute is a global research organization that spans more than 60 countries. The Institute’s more than 1,000 experts and staff work with government leaders, community groups, private sector actors and others to turn big ideas into action to sustain and protect the world’s most precious natural resources. Through regional initiatives like AFR100 and Initiative 20x20, WRI’s Global Restoration Initiative is dedicated to restoring the health of degraded forests and landscapes around the globe for the benefit of people and the planet.
The African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) serves as the Secretariat of the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), an alliance of 30 countries that have committed to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land by 2030. The Secretariat actively supports women and youth entrepreneurs to restore land.
Fledge is a global network of business accelerators and seed investment funds that help entrepreneurs bring their companies to scale through short, intense programs filled with education, guidance and mentorship. To date, they have invested in over 40 African companies.
The Land Accelerator 2021 and 2022 was funded by Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and Mitsubishi Corporation Fund for Europe and Africa. The DOEN Foundation was a founding funder providing seed funding for the first Land Accelerator Africa held in 2018, which allowed the program to develop since.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What countries are covered by the Land Accelerator Africa?
- We welcome applications from businesses based in any of the 33 AFR100 countries into the Land Accelerator Africa. Check this webpage to see if your country is included.
What types of businesses can apply?
- All entrepreneurs whose business model clearly centers around land restoration — through practices such as sustainable agriculture, reforestation and agroforestry — are invited to apply.
What stage of growth does my business need to reach before I can apply?
We seek to scale small and medium sized enterprises who restore land. Therefore, we prioritize companies that at least have a prototype (if not a product or service in the market with customers). Idea-stage companies may apply, as novel, highly impactful ideas will be considered, but the programming is tuned toward growing operational businesses.
Enterprises led by women and youth (ages 18-35) or that are in Francophone African countries are especially encouraged to apply. We recognize that these groups face greater barriers in building their companies and this will be taken into consideration when evaluating applications.
Do I need to pay to apply or participate?
- No. The Land Accelerator is a completely free program supported by generous private and public donors.
How are businesses selected?
Land Accelerator applications are reviewed by a team of staff from the World Resources Institute, AUDA-NEPAD, Fledge, and Barka Fund. Reviewers will be evaluating each application based on 5 main criteria.
- Scalability – is the business ready and able to grow?
- Replicability – can this business model be applied in other contexts?
- Profitability – is this business making a profit or does it have potential to make a profit?
- Environmental impact – does this business model better the environment?
- Social impact – does this business model benefit people?
The selection committee will also consider other aspects of the company, including uniqueness, quality of the team and current progress.
How much time am I expected to commit to the program?
- Entrepreneurs are expected to attend all of the weekly, 90-minute live webinars and the other networking events.
- These will be scheduled on Tuesday or Thursday evenings across African time zones. Many of the online lessons will include homework assignments to be completed by the participant and/or the management team of the company.
- The more entrepreneurs put into the program, the more they will get out. Expect to spend a minimum of four hours per week, but plan on spending more time than the minimum. Attendance will be taken, and assignments will be graded according to the timeliness of submission, completeness and effort demonstrated.
- Entrepreneurs who miss sessions or who skip assignments will be disqualified from consideration for the investment pack.
What are the eligibility requirements for the investment pack?
- Investment packs will be awarded to the top entrepreneurs from the Land Accelerator Africa cohort who submit the following:
- - 10 to 12 slide pitch deck
- - 3-minute site-visit video
- - A link to a working company website
- Attendance to at least 9 out of 12 Land Accelerator virtual sessions is also required to receive the investment pack.
- The selection committee may also choose to conduct interviews with some candidates before making the final selection. Templates and guidance for the above documents will be provided to the 100 businesses throughout the course of the Land Accelerator.
What languages does the Land Accelerator operate in?
- Most of the Land Accelerator session are conducted in English with live French Interpretation. Some mentorship and networking sessions can be conducted in French to better serve Francophone entrepreneurs. Support to entrepreneurs in Portuguese and Spanish can also be provided if needed.
- Application to the Land Accelerator can be written submitted in English, French, Portuguese, or Spanish.