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 700 applicants in Africa, and its alumni report that they have created 2,200 jobs, worked with 56,000 farmers and restored 38,000 hectares.
What does the program look like?
In 2021, WRI and our partners at AFR100 and Fledge are taking a novel approach to the Land Accelerator Africa. We expanded the size of our cohort to the top 100 entrepreneurs from across the continent to join us for an all-virtual business accelerator. Restoration entrepreneurs were invited to apply from all sub-Saharan African countries, free of charge.
The Top 100 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.
By the end of the program, entrepreneurs will have accessed the trainings and tools that they need 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 also have the opportunity to apply for a Land Accelerator investment pack, which an expert panel awards to the top entrepreneurs.
Recipients of the investment packs benefit from:
An innovation grant of $5,000 or more.
A coaching meeting with a Land Accelerator organizer to develop your investment and innovation grant plan.
A 90-minute group session with members of the Land Accelerator mentor network, who will provide 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 your three-minute business pitch at the virtual Land Accelerator Demo Day, an event that brings together the awardees and investors from across the continent.
The 2019 Land Accelerator | 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 | 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 program is funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the DOEN Foundation and the Mitsubishi Corporation Fund for Europe and Africa.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What countries are covered by the Land Accelerator Africa?
We welcome applications from businesses based anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa. Applications must be written in either English or French.
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 companies 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.
Small- and medium-sized enterprises — and those that are led by women and young people — that are showing success and need growth capital are especially encouraged to apply.
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?
Businesses are selected based on five criteria: scalability, replicability, profitability, environmental impact and social impact. 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:
One-minute business pitch (submitted in writing and via video recording).
10 to 12 slide pitch deck.
5 to10-minute site-visit video.
Video presenting a two- to three-minute Demo Day pitch for potential investors.
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.
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