In 2019, World Resources Institute India (WRI India) and Sangam Ventures launched the Land Accelerator South Asia, the world’s first accelerator program targeted specifically toward South Asian businesses that restore degraded forests and farmland. The program provides South Asian entrepreneurs with mentorship and networking opportunities, technical training and workshops to build their storytelling and pitching skills, and enhances skills for tracking environmental and social impact. Participants leave the program more empowered to connect with potential investors so they can take their business to the next stage of growth.
The 73 businesses that have graduated from the program, chosen from nearly 800 applicants, have created nearly 1,800 jobs, restored 70,000 hectares of land, engaged 1.1 million small and marginal farmers and grown 8.7 million trees.
Learn more about the Land Accelerator South Asia alumni and their success in the program's brochure.
What does the program look like?
In 2021, WRI India and Sangam took a novel approach to the Land Accelerator South Asia. We expanded the size of our cohort and selected 58 entrepreneurs from across the continent to join us for an all-virtual business creation and growth accelerator.
The top 58 applicants received:
Three months of exclusive, weekly trainings.
Templates to create content to help their business thrive.
Weekly office hours with mentors who lent their expertise to discuss how to integrate new concepts and tools into their business strategy.
Weekly networking sessions to speak with and learn from other land restoration entrepreneurs in the cohort.
By the end of the program, entrepreneurs had:
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 growth projections and to identify capital needs.
Increased confidence in their business’s mission and operations.
All participants had an opportunity to apply for a Land Accelerator Investment Pack, which was awarded to the top 15 entrepreneurs and includes:
A €3,000 innovation grant.
A coaching meeting with a Land Accelerator organizer to develop their investment and innovation grant plan.
A 90-minute group mentorship session with members of the Land Accelerator mentor network, who provide tailored feedback and suggestions.
The opportunity to present their three-minute business pitch at the virtual Land Accelerator Demo Day, an event that brings together the 15 grant recipients and business and social investors from across the continent.
The 2021 Land Accelerator South Asia | Online | November 2021
Fifty-eight entrepreneurs from India and Sri Lanka joined the expanded second Land Accelerator South Asia. After completing a rigorous online learning program, the top 15 entrepreneurs met with mentors and investors to improve their impact and presented to a live audience. Watch their pitches here and here.
The 2020 Land Accelerator South Asia | Online | December 2020
For its first cohort in South Asia, the Land Accelerator brought together 15 entrepreneurs from across the region. The six-month training program culminated in a Demo Day where companies pitched to investors. In total, the group received 75 requests for investor follow-up calls. Watch their pitches here and here.
World Resources Institute India provides objective information and practical proposals to foster environmentally sound and socially equitable development. WRI’s Global Restoration Initiative works across South Asia to restore the health of degraded forests and landscapes for the benefit of people and the planet.
Sangam Ventures is a seed and early stage venture fund that invests to improve access to sustainable energy and resource productivity solutions for the underserved in India that can lead to inclusive development and creation of communities that are resilient to climate change.
IKEA Foundation (Stichting IKEA Foundation) works to create a better everyday life for many people through sustainable livelihoods and by fighting against climate change. It funds the Land Accelerator South Asia.
Startup India, Invest India, Agnii and Labs Indigram support the program.
Frequently Asked Questions
What countries are covered by the Land Accelerator South Asia?
We welcome applications from businesses based in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Applications must be written in either English or Hindi.
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.
What types of businesses can apply?
All entrepreneurs whose business model center on land restoration — through practices such as sustainable agriculture, reforestation and agroforestry — are invited to apply.
How are businesses selected?
Businesses are selected based on five criteria: profitability, scalability, replicability, 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.
My project is not structured as a company. Actually, it is part of a non-profit initiative. Does it qualify?
The important thing to consider is: Does the “project” rely on market forces, and are customers or clients purchasing your products or services? Many successful companies or financially self-sustainable operations have sprung out of community-led or non-profit organizations.
What stage of growth does my business need to reach before I can apply?
The Land Accelerator was created to help scale companies who restore land. Therefore, we are seeking companies who are past the idea stage, yet still see something to be gained from the activities and networking that our program provides. Small- and medium-sized enterprises that are taking their product to market are especially encouraged to apply.
How much time am I expected to commit to the program?
To get the most out of the program, we expect entrepreneurs selected to participate in the Land Accelerator to always show up, be present and give their best effort.
Participants will be required to attend weekly, 90-minute webinars and networking events. These events are usually held on either Tuesdays or Thursdays, in the afternoon or evening.
The program leader will provide a unique link to take attendance at the beginning and end of each session. Additionally, entrepreneurs will receive weekly homework assignments. Assignments will be graded on a pass/fail scale according to the timeliness of submission, completeness and effort demonstrated.
Companies that fail two or more assignments will be disqualified from consideration for the investment pack, but may still participate in the full virtual program.
We strive to deliver the best quality programming and ask participants to be at their best in return.
What are the eligibility requirements for the investment pack?
Investment Packs will be awarded to the top ten entrepreneurs from the Land Accelerator South Asia cohort who submit the following:
A company factsheet.
A one-minute business pitch (submitted in writing and via video recording).
A 5 to10 minute site visit video.
A 10 to 12 slide pitch deck.
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 60 businesses throughout the course of the Land Accelerator.
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