These Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are being updated on a regular basis, so be sure to check this page frequently for updates.

ABOUT WE4F

What is the objective of the WE4F Programme?

The Water and Energy for Food Programme (WE4F) is a successor of Powering Agriculture (PAEGC) and Securing Water for Food (SWFF), that combined supported 19 innovators in the nexus of energy for food and water for food respectively in East Africa. The programme is funded by Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the European Commission (EU) and is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in two regional hubs in East and West Africa. The overall objective (impact) of the WE4F programme is to increase food production and income of smallholder farmers through and a more sustainable use of water and energy in food production.

What is the Water and Energy for Food (WE4F) innovation call?

The regional innovation calls are the heart piece of the Water and Energy for Food (WE4F) initiative as they are the main process for identifying innovative business partners. Through the calls, WE4F sources for innovative business requiring scale up support in the water and energy for food nexus.

CRITERIA AND BENEFITS

Who can apply for the innovation call? 

WE4F is looking for for-profit Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) – or Innovators – that have developed market-ready innovative solutions that make better use of water for food, of more efficient or renewable energy for food, or of water and energy for food. Underlying these innovations should be sustainable and viable business models that provide products, processes, services, or technologies to the benefit of smallholder farmers and other value chain actors, who are the present or future customers and end users. The SMEs need to have a stable revenue model with annual turnover of between 50,000 – 500,000.

We are particularly looking for SMEs that:

  1. Are looking to scale their businesses to new geographies and customer segments;
  2. Have ambition to significantly grow their revenue; and
  3. Are seeking to raise commercial capital.

The SMEs should be operational in any of the following countries: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Malawi and Somali. 


The innovative businesses should have a positive impact on the incomes of small-holder farmers and other value chain actors by making food systems more sustainable as well as resource and cost-efficient. They will ideally promote women and youth economic empowerment and strengthen climate resilience.

Refer to the eligibility criteria section for more details on who we are looking for.

 

Can an Entity with over €500,000 turnover apply?

No, companies with revenue above €500,000 equivalent as at the date of final application will not be eligible to apply.

 

How many years of annual turnover between €50k and €500k must a company have to be eligible?

Companies must have at least one year with an annual turnover of a minimum of €50,000 (equivalent in local currency at the time of final application) in order to be eligible.

 

Can revenue from a parent company that is not one of the eligible countries contribute to the turnover requirement for a subsidiary that is in one of the seven focus countries?

No, the revenue in consideration must be generated within the subsidiary in one of the seven focus countries.

 

If I am a shareholder of the company and I get contracted for consultancy services under an Individual Service Agreement (ISA) and also, contracted as a company, does individual earning count as part of the source of revenue? Can I share my individual bank statement to substantiate that of the company?

No, this would have two separate consequences. 1) conflict of interest between being a shareholder of the company and advising as a consultant. 2) an individual revenue cannot be accounted for as a corporate revenue, unless the revenue is financially accounted for separately in bank statements (corporate company account vs. individual accounts)

 

If an SME is based in a country that does not require their accounts to be audited, in this case Malawi, is it a necessary prerequisite for the applicant to have had their accounts audited in order to be eligible for application? Will their application be adversely affected if their accounts haven’t been audited

It is to the applicant to provide the necessary documentation (management accounts, certified, but not audited accounts etc.) to support its application.

Each country has specific reporting and auditing requirements that will be taken into account for assessment.

 

What type of innovations are we looking for?

The WE4F East Africa Innovation Call is looking for climate-friendly and resource-efficient solutions, such as the provision of products and services, the optimisation of processes, new business, and financial models, addressing the water-energy-food nexus challenges in East Africa. These solutions may be digital or non-digital, organisational, financial, or advisory in nature. The WE4F programme is particularly interested in easily accessible, adaptive, low-cost solutions with immediate impacts and benefits for small-holder farmers and other value chain actors as well as net positive impacts on natural resources, especially water and energy. These should be innovations along the food value chain as depicted below.

What kind of impact is the programme looking for?

WE4F is looking for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) – or Innovators – that have developed market-ready innovative solutions that make better use of water for food, of more efficient or renewable energy for food, or of water and energy for food. Ultimately, these solutions should have a positive impact on small-holder farmers, especially women and youth, and the environment. Specifically, applicants should show their socio-economic impact, including enhanced agricultural productivity, job creation potential and increased income as well as environmental impact including a reduction in GHG emissions, water savings, energy efficiency, and monitoring of biodiversity. Ideally, applicants will promote women and youth economic empowerment and strengthen climate-resilience.

 

Have you set a gender quota on the enterprises that will be supported?

At least  30% of the programme’s portfolio will be women-owned or women-led enterprises. These are SMEs where women comprise at minimum 30% shareholders, and/or board of directors, and/or the management team.

 

Are individuals eligible to apply?

No. Only registered for-profit organizations are eligible for this call.

 

Can a Community Based Organisation in the water-energy-food nexus, which is transitioning into an MSME qualify for this call for application?

Only if the transition has happened in the past 18 months, as this is part of the criteria that the enterprise must have been operating for 18 months and be on a path to scale.  If the organization hasn’t been an operating business for at least 18 months as at the application deadline, then the organization is not eligible to apply.

 

What benefits does the programme offer?

The programme provides tailor-made business and investment advisory support to SMEs, enabling them to innovate, develop and market their products or services, identify business opportunities, expand to new markets, access and manage financial resources, control costs, forecast, manage and mitigate risks, negotiate sales with buyers and achieve profitability. 

Each selected enterprise will have a business advisory plan, which will be co-created with the enterprise to establish growth-oriented goals. The business advisory will be developed over a period of 15 to 18 months through NIRAS and qualified partners. SMEs can nominate business advisors with whom they would like to work, though final approval lies with NIRAS. SMEs can also access results-based finance from WE4F. Overall the support package for each SME is worth between €50,000 and €500,000.

 

What kind of impact does the specific programme target?

  • Environmental impact: energy savings, green energy, water savings, and GHG savings.
  • Socio-economic impacts: agricultural productivity, food security, jobs, income, youth, and gender.
  • Focus on gender, youth and small-holder farmers.
  • We are looking for businesses that want to scale their growth in revenue, expand into other countries, and raise additional investment.

 

Applications will not be considered for an award if the applicants are in any of the following situations

(a) They are bankrupt or being wound up, are having their affairs administered by the courts, have entered into an arrangement with creditors, have suspended business activities, are the subject of proceedings concerning those matters, or are in any analogous situation arising from a similar procedure provided for in national legislation or regulations.

(b) They have been convicted of an offence concerning professional conduct by a judgment which may not be re-litigated once it has been judged on the merits (“res judicata”).

(c) They have been guilty of grave professional misconduct proven by any means which the contracting authority can justify.

(d) They have not fulfilled obligations relating to the payment of social security contributions or the payment of taxes in accordance with the legal provisions of the country in which they are established or with those of the country of the contracting authority or those of the country where the contract is to be performed.

(e) They have been the subject of a judgment for fraud, corruption, involvement in a criminal organisation or any other illegal activity.

(f) They are currently subject to an administrative penalty within their country or by any international jurisdiction.

(g) They are faced with a conflict of interest.

(h) They are guilty of misrepresentation in supplying the information required by the contracting authority as a condition of participation in the procedure or fail to supply this information.

 

What type of income is allowed to be included in revenue requirements? E.g. product sales, service income, income from grants for delivering projects

Specifically, grant income should not be included as part of revenue.  Other incomes such as product sales, consulting services, and franchising fees, etc. should be included.

 

If a company has many years of operations outside the seven countries but less than 18 months operations in one of the seven eligible countries, can the experience in the other countries be counted to make the company eligible?

No, the company must be operational within the seven countries for at least 18 months.

 

If a company is not registered in one of the seven countries but has operations there, can the organization form a partnership with a registered company? Would the partnership qualify for consideration?

No, partnerships and consortia are not eligible to apply for this call for application.  Only registered for-profit companies scaling a particular innovation in one of the seven countries are eligible to apply.

 

Is a company selected for the WE4F program in another region (S/SEA or MENA WE4F program) still eligible to apply for this call in East Africa? And if yes, does it reduce its chances?

Yes, the enterprise may be eligible if it operates in at least one of the seven countries and fits all the other eligibility criteria.

PROCESS AND TIMELINES

What is the application and selection process?

Interested and eligible applicants can apply through the application platform. The innovation call will adopt a one-stage full proposal application process where the applicant will be requested to fill out an application form gathering information on the business model, innovation to be scaled, team, financial information, and impact.

We will adopt a four-stage shortlisting and selection process that will include;

  1. Eligibility verification and shortlisting of eligible applications
  2. Shortlisting and evaluation process for semi-finalists based on the framework described in No.6
  3. Due diligence, field visits, and second level assessment of semi-finalists
  4. Pitching and selection of the top innovators by an external expert panel.

 

What are the key criteria that my application will be evaluated on?


Shortlisted applications that meet the minimum criteria will be evaluated based on the scoring framework below:

How do I need to present my financial proposal?

The technical and financial proposal will be required only from shortlisted enterprises. This will include a breakdown of the total funding requested from WE4F by cost item clearly articulating the different support areas required for the enterprise to scale. The budget should be shared in an Excel format (a template will be shared with shortlisted SMEs) and expressed in Euros.  The WE4F team will provide guidance on how to develop this technical and financial proposal for shortlisted enterprises.

 

How many SMEs will the programme support?

WE4F East Africa innovation call will support a maximum of 5 innovators in any one country, and at least 15 innovators in total.

 

How much in matching funds are expected from the SME? 

The innovation call expects 20% of the total value matching funds contributions from the SME. This can be in cash or in-kind.

 

If we are operational in more than one of the focus countries, should 2 separate applications be submitted for each country of operation?

No. You only need to submit one application for the organization.

 

My company is an international company with a subsidiary in one of the seven countries. In the application, a question asks for the number of paying customers – should I  include the total number of customers at the global level, or should it only include the customers in the subsidiary company?

The allowable number of paying customers should include only customers within the seven focus countries, notably focused only on the specific numbers relating to the applying entity

 

How will my application be scored?

Each question will be evaluated and scored on a scale of 1 to 5; 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest score. All questions are weighted equally. Below is the evaluation framework developed for all the questions that fit into the scoring criteria

PROGRAMME IMPLEMENTATION

How much time is expected for enterprises to put into the programme? 

The time to be spent by the enterprise on the programme will be dependent on the need areas identified and will average 2-4 hours a week. This will be discussed during the review and contracting stage.

 

What are the expectations from the enterprise?

WE4F has developed an elaborate Monitoring & Evaluation framework that aims to support SMEs by collecting data on their performance and impact and demonstrating tangible achievements. Full commitment by both parties is therefore essential to answer pertinent questions on why and how the results are or are not being achieved. All data with be treated with utmost confidentiality and privacy and will only be made public in an aggregated manner.

Applicants are expected to contribute to the following M&E related deliverables:

  1. A detailed business and investment advisory plan that clearly documents a streamlined roadmap with specific activities and timelines.
  2. Monitoring and Evaluation Plan of the results and impacts they want to achieve
  3. Share data when requested, especially data on project progress, baseline, and midline assessments as well as participate in an end-term evaluation.  
  4. Quarterly and Semi-annual progress report that clearly details both programmatic and technical achievements within the review period
  5. Knowledge sharing and technical exchanges, e.g. through factsheets, peer-reviewed publications, conferences and trade fair
  6. Feature in testimonial videos and participate in global and regional events.

 

How long will the programme last?

The programme will run for a period of between 15-18 months and will be informed by the needs areas that will be identified for each enterprise.

 

How will the business and financial advisory be delivered?

WE4F Team will work with business development and access to financial service providers selected in partnership with the SMEs to deliver the services.

Will the technical assistance comprise feasibility studies? For clients seeking to invest in energy projects, e.g a cost-benefit analysis for a biogas project, installation of solar dryers versus the use of electric power, etc.

Feasibility studies may be included.  Such studies will depend on the kind of the project, it will be assessed on a holistic angle as per the set criteria. There will be a consideration if the feasibility involves something that you are already doing and the enterprise wants to scale to another region or a feasibility study for a new product line then it may qualify. The TA to be delivered will be assessed on a case by case basis.

If an applicant company is successful and receives initial funding, a) what is the nature of that funding? b) is there a draft Term Sheet available? c) what monitoring and evaluation commitments would the applicant be signing up to?

The nature of the funding is a contract for service, clearly determined by tasks, timelines, and milestones.  Timelines and deliverables will be agreed upon with a third party support to get the enterprise to scale. The programme would typically pay for those services to the third party upon verification of the expected results. There could be cases where the company would receive the funding instead of the third-party service provider, on a case by case basis.

Yes, when an enterprise is selected the term sheet, and subsequently a binding contract, will be issued.

The monitoring and evaluation commitment will be quarterly and semi-annual progress reports that clearly detail both programmatic and technical achievements within the review period. It is expected that the enterprise will commit resources to provide data and narrative to support this effort.  (refer to question 18 for more details on M&E expectations).

 

TECHNICAL SUPPORT

I’m having trouble submitting my application.  What do I do? 

Please write to us on we4f.apply@niras.com or submit your query through our help desk and someone will contact you.

 

I’m confused about some of the questions in the application.  Can someone help me? 

Please write to us on we4f.apply@niras.com or submit your query through our help desk and someone will contact you.

 

Can I save the application and complete it later?

Yes, you will be able to save responses on the application form and complete it at a later date.

 

I have team members who will help me work on crafting my application.  Can we jointly work on it?

Yes, the application platform allows multiple team members to contribute to a single application.  Just invite your team members to your application.  Visit this help article to learn more.

 

 

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