Applications open for $7.5m Securing Water for Food challenge


Applications are open for the Securing Water for Food: A Grand Challenge for Development competition, with successful participants to receive up to US$2 million in funding and acceleration.

The competition focuses on cutting-edge, advanced technologies and business models which address food and water security.

In particular, the competition looks for those with innovations that help farmers produce more food with less water, enhance water storage, and improve the use of saline water and soils to produce food.

The current call for proposals for the competition will see US$7.5 million pumped into the selected innovators, with each successful applicant to receive between US$100,000 and US$2 million in funding and acceleration to scale their businesses.

Launched in 2013, the Securing Water for Food initiative is co-hosted by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (MFA-NL), and the government of South Africa; and will put US$32 million funding into water and food security innovation by 2018.

“As we see more and more droughts all over the world and surpass the one billion mark of people who don’t have enough food to eat, it is increasingly clear that we need better innovations to help our planet’s farmers grow more food with less water,” said Christian Holmes USAID’s global water coordinator.

“Securing Water for Food provides catalytic funding to innovators in the water-ag nexus who can solve what is becoming one of the most pressing challenges of our time.”

The competition also seeks innovations that prioritize the engagement of women; and high quality applications from women-owned and led enterprises, as well as developing country entrepreneurs, are encouraged.

“For Sweden, gender equality is stressed in all development cooperation, which is strengthened by our feminist foreign policy. In sub-Saharan Africa, women produce as much as 80 per cent of the food. It is therefore crucial that Securing Water for Food continue to strengthen the role of women. We look forward to seeing the grantees from this fourth round of calls include women in all parts of their businesses,” said Sweden’s Ambassador to the US, Björn Lyrval.

Currently in its fourth round, previous Securing Water for Food graduates have to date saved over 700 million litres of water, produced nearly 2,600 tonnes of food, and served more than 780,000 farmers and other customers in more than 25 low-resource countries.

Applications can be made here.


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Inspired and excited by the African tech entrepreneurial scene, Gabriella spends her time travelling around the continent to report on the most innovative tech startups, the most active investors, and the latest trends emerging in the ecosystem.

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