In 2018, World Resources Institute (WRI) and Fledge launched the Land Accelerator, the world’s first training and mentorship program targeted specifically toward businesses that restore degraded forests, farmland, and pasture. Today they invite entrepreneurs to apply for our third Accelerator in Africa, and our second in South Asia.
The Land Accelerator has opened applications for the 2021 cohort with a deadline of March 31, 2021 for South Asia, and April 11 for Africa.
The Land Accelerator provides land-restoring entrepreneurs across Africa, Latin America and South Asia with mentorship and networking opportunities, technical training, and workshops to build up their storytelling and pitching skills. Participants leave the program ready to connect with potential investors so that they can take their business to the next stage of growth. The program has attracted over 1,600 applicants globally, and its alumni report that they have created 2,700 jobs, worked with 120,500 farmers, restored 101,200 hectares, and grown 3.1 million trees. Please see here for some testimonials from Land Accelerator alumni.
Women-led and youth-led companies are highly encouraged to apply!
For the 2021 Africa cohort, we are embracing this approach:
- From our applicants, the team will select Africa’s Top 100 Restoration Entrepreneurs, all of whom will benefit from extensive online training and networking for three months, as well as a $5,000 Innovation Grant upon program completion.
- A panel of experts will then select the Top 10, who will benefit from one-on-one technical support, pitch their businesses to an online room of investors, and receive the opportunity access additional funding through the Land Accelerator Africa Alumni Fund.
For the 2021 South Asia cohort, the following structures apply:
- From our applicants, the team will select South Asia’s Top 60 Restoration Entrepreneurs, all of whom will benefit from extensive online training and networking for three months
- A panel of experts will then select the Top 15, who will benefit from one-on-one technical support, pitch their businesses to an online room of investors, and receive a 3,000 Euro Innovation Grant upon program completion.
Who are Land Restoration Entrepreneurs:
Land Restoration Entrepreneurs are founders whose businesses restore the land. Our 2020 cohort members from South Asia are visible on the Companies page. Yes, financially sustainable and profitable businesses can also restore land! A sampling of business models we have identified around the globe include: Farms that incorporate trees onto their land; growing restorative plants and trees (such as bamboo or cashew trees) on severely degraded lands, thus restoring the water table and increasing soil nutrients; the business of reforestation that creates forests for both private and public clients; agroforestry and silvopasture which adds trees to the landscape of traditional agriculture lands; creation of organic fertilizer, pesticides and other nature-based soil amendments; technologies that lessen the demand for firewood, such as bio-fuel cookstoves; business models that support the profitability of maintaining forests, such as eco-tourism, bioprospecting, and sustainable forest products such as honey, specialty seeds and berries, mushrooms, oils and more.
Why Land Restoration:
Addressing the High-Level Segment of the 14th Conference of Parties (COP14) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) on September 9th, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that “India would raise its ambition of the total area that would be restored from its land degradation status from 21 Million Hectares to 26 Million Hectares between now and 2030”. Worldwide over 3.2 billion people are at risk from land degradation. 96.4 million hectares of land in India, which is nearly 30% of the country’s landmass, is facing land degradation, resulting in lower yields on agricultural land, and land that lacks the ability to support naturally occurring plants and animals. Other countries’ agricultural sectors are highly affected by land degradation: 75% of Bangladesh’s agricultural land is degraded, in Pakistan 61%; Sri Lanka 44%; Afghanistan 33%; Nepal 26%; and Bhutan 10% (G. Singh, 2017).
Through the Land Accelerator, we build networks and give entrepreneurs time to increase their skills in storytelling and pitching so that they can connect with debt and equity funders who can help them reach the next level.