5 things to know about the Green Pioneer Accelerator, with €100K for Africa’s best sustainability startups!

A new acceleration program for green entrepreneurs was announced last month, targeting green entrepreneurs looking to take their innovations to scale in Africa. Below you’ll find 5 key things to know about this ambitious program.

The application process still runs for little over a month, until the 1st of December 2014. Don’t wait until the last moment to apply!

1. Why this program?

Finding solutions for pressing social and environmental issues has traditionally been the domain of the public sector and civil society. However, entrepreneurs have recently emerged as a powerful force for change. But as Africa has just begun to test the Green social enterprise/inclusive business approach, the impact investment market place has yet to find its feet. To date, few efficient mechanisms have been created which link entrepreneurs with viable ideas and or proven models to interested investors. The inability of innovative business to get the support they need to become investment ready, in a cost effective way, has inspired the creation of the Green Pioneer Accelerator.

2. Who can apply?

The Green Pioneer Accelerator is specifically designed for early to growth stage businesses in the environmental goods and services sector. It is not for Idea stage entrepreneurs who have yet to generate revenue in their business.

We are looking for entrepreneur working on innovative products in rapidly expanding environmental sectors such as sustainable agriculture, (including apiculture and aquaculture), ecotourism, sustainable forestry, non-timber forest products, and renewable energy. An equal emphasis is given to opportunities in food waste, ecological housing, recycling or other green innovations. Applicants should benefit local communities who are an integral part of protecting the earth’s natural capital.

Entrepreneurs from anywhere in South Africa or Kenya can apply. However, as all the group meetings will be held in Cape Town and Nairobi, entrepreneurs from elsewhere will need to be able to travel one day every two weeks for the duration of the program. Any travel related costs are not covered by the program.

3. What does the program entail?

The following reflects the key dates for the program:

• 1 December – application process closes
• 8 December – shortlisted candidates announced
• 19 December – final selections made and announced
19 January, 2015 – program begins
30 April – program ends

The 4-month program starting in January prepares entrepreneurs with the skills, knowledge, documentation and support required to secure investment for their businesses. The Accelerator will be structured in eight modules, one every two weeks over a four- month period, held in both the Nairobi and Cape Town locations. Core subjects that will be covered include Business modelling and strategic planning; Theory of change and social and/or environmental impact; Financial modelling and valuations; Connecting with partners in the business ecosystem; Investment case writing and pitching to investors; and more. The structure has been designed to combine expert, peer-to-peer learning, and pragmatic assignments that provide the basis for developing an investment case for support pitched to potential investors.

4. Who’s behind this program?

The program is being run simultaneously in Cape Town and Nairobi. Impact Amplifier is the lead company in South Africa and will be driving the program and content along with other experts in the field. In Kenya, Growth Africa is leading the programme out of Nairobi.

VC4Africa, the online networking platform for entrepreneurs and investors, is supporting both country programs. Participating entrepreneurs have access to free online tools, mentorship opportunities and private deal rooms online. Graduates will have the ability to fundraise with over 600 private sector investors investing in sub-USD $1 million companies, part of the VC4Africa Investor Network.

Hivos, which has funded this program, will be participating in the entrepreneur selection process, and supporting the program’s content. They are also reviewing the investment opportunities and have reserved Euro 100,000 for initial investments.

5. What is asked of participants & how to apply?

This program is not a course and there are no exams. All the work required relates to developing the strategy and documentation required to get investment funding. As such, it is exclusively about achieving business growth and development and therefore requires the owners of those businesses to be active and engaged.

The Green Pioneer Accelerator is 95% funded by Hivos. However, each entrepreneur in the programme will be asked to make a nominal contribution toward the food and venues hired to deliver the program (Cape Town: Rand 2,000; Nairobi: KES 15,000).

Between 10-15 entrepreneurs will be selected for both the Cape Town and Nairobi program. The Selection Committee will shortlist the top 20 applicants, invite them to request additional information and set up interviews for the final selections. The primary criteria that will be used to shortlist the 20 applicants will include, but not be exclusive to:

– How commercially viable and capable of creating long term shareholder value is the entrepreneur?
– Does the business have the potential to scale upwards or be a model that others can emulate?
– Can the business become investment ready – structurally, practically, and psychologically – or be capable of accelerated growth by participating in the program?
– What environmental issue is the business addressing? How material is this issue and what impact will the business have on it? Does the business also intend to make an impact on social issues?

For more details about eligibility see the Green Pioneer Accelerator Brochure.

How to apply?

You can apply to either the Cape Town (click here) or Nairobi (click here) program. Alternatively, e-mail David van Dijk (david@vc4a.com) for details.

For more details on eligibility see the Green Pioneer Accelerator Brochure, and also see the Green Pioneer Accelerator Overview Page and the article we published at the launch. Don’t wait until the last moment to apply / make contact!