AICCRA Zambia Cohort 2

Catalyzing partnerships for sustainable agriculture solutions in Zambia


AICCRA Zambia seeks small and medium enterprise (SME) partnerships to scale bundles of climate-smart agriculture innovations (digital innovations, finance innovations, social innovations, technological innovations, services etc) in Zambia. Proposing partnerships should present activities that ensure use of such innovations while improving gender and youth inclusivity and supporting environmental sustainability. Locally registered for-profit businesses and social enterprises are invited to contribute to an application as partnerships. We encourage proposals that include multiple components and present a cohesive market systems approach.
Successful partnerships should be able to:

  • Work collaboratively in a partnership model to co-implement and scale market-system based solutions in climate-smart agriculture;
  • Implement, scale, and refine sustainable finance mechanism(s) as part of the partnership’s scaling strategy;
  • Integrate digital innovations into the design of the partnership’s scaling strategy;
  • Provide evidence of impact and innovation users reached within a one-year period;
  • Contribute to capacity development of food producers, women, youth and other marginalized groups in relevant topics directly related to activity;
  • Implement a series of activities directly addressing the needs of women and youth.


July 19, 2024
Targets Africa
Sectors Sector agnostic

About the Grant Program

Launched in February 2022, the science-driven AICCRA Zambia Accelerator Program offers a win-win solution for SMEs and investors alike – showing how science can be used to catalyze finance into climate-smart agriculture for meaningful change.

Over the last year, AICCRA and partners have worked closely with a cohort of 14 Zambian agribusinesses. These were grouped into five innovation ‘bundles’ each focused on a different value chains or challenge specific to Zambia’s agriculture: The Grants aims to a) scale research innovations and b) catalyze private finance into these agribusinesses to increase their impact considering Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI).

AICCRA Zambia in partnership with national incubators and the private sector have nurtured innovations through the provision of accelerator grants for SME’s working in CIS delivery and CSA technology scaling to de-risk scaling innovations and to enhance climate resilience of value chains, social inclusion, and sustainable use of land and water. It has also identified gender and youth vulnerability within the food system and identified potential entry points to build resilience as effected by climate change through user-centred co-design to enhance gender and social inclusion in terms of user preference to the solution as well as increase access to the solution.

When AICCRA started in 2021, we anticipated that 2023 would likely mark the final and culminating year. However, the growth trajectory of AICCRA partnerships has been extraordinary. By the end of AICCRA’s second year in 2022, we achieved significant milestones through our partnerships. The World Bank Group has recognized these accomplishments and signaled its commitment to provide additional financing to AICCRA through the Bank’s International Development Association. This extension of AICCRA’s mandate further supports our mission to build climate resilience in Africa, particularly in our project’s six focus countries: Senegal, Mali, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Zambia.

What we offer

program offeringScaling grant

Successful applicants will be awarded a scaling grant of US$ 30,000 per bundle, distributed over the course of the project duration according to the proposed budgeting and needs of the applicants. The funds will only be distributed if their purpose is proven to contribute to the proposed scaling activities. Participants are required to periodically produce audited financial statements.

Technical assistance

During the active project duration (August 2024 – May 2025), CGIAR partners will provide technical assistance in form of development and implementation of agronomic best practices, commercial/business advisory, scientific assistance, networking opportunities in form of multi-stakeholder dialogues as well as monitoring & evaluation. Participants are expected to work closely with the CGIAR partners.

Launch event
  • An official Launch Event will be held on the 19th of June in Lusaka. The aim of the event is to bring together high-level dignitaries from the private and public sector, non-government organisations and research institutions to explore possible partnership models with actors from across Zambia’s agricultural ecosystem.
  • It will be the official start of the Accelerator Grant call for applications on The agenda will welcome representatives from the AICCRA project, the private sector and the government.

CSA Innovation Bundles

CSA CIS innovation bundles explained

With the additional financing, AICCRA-Zambia will co-fund new investments with the private sector to address development and business challenges related to scaling the developed CSA and CIS technology packages.

Four unique CSA innovation bundles have been developed and a grant of up to $30,000 will be issued for each. For each bundle, at least two or more small or medium-sized business partnerships working in the following areas will be awarded the grant:

CSA/CIS Bundle 1: Agriculture Water Management – Improving bio-physical water productivity (BWP), social water productivity (SWP), and economic water productivity (EWP) through scale appropriate and contextual water use interventions/technologies/innovations for to smallholder farmers in key-value chains.
 PDF fileBundle 1 info sheet

CSA/CIS Bundle 2: Integrated Aquaculture-Agriculture Systems – Promote integrated management and use of aquaculture, agriculture, and livestock & provide access to improved/quality and resilient fish seed by linking farmers to trained seed producers in their communities.
 PDF fileBundle 2 info sheet

CSA/CIS Bundle 3: Addressing Drought through Climate Smart Seed Varieties – Improve access to multi-stress tolerate varieties in partnership with a wide range of actors along the seed value chain.
 PDF fileBundle 3 info sheet

CSA/CIS Bundle 4: Mechanization – Promote smallholder mechanization to improve productivity and profitability and reduce drudgery in crop production.
 PDF fileBundle 4 info sheet

Who we are looking for

The aim of the Accelerator Grant is to identify partnerships with a for-profit business model that include the interventions presented in the CSA/CIS bundles. Under the second cohort of the accelerator grant, we are looking for companies with the following eligibility criteria:

  • Each partnership application should include at least one women/youth-led agribusiness partner. Locally-registered SMEs are encourage to apply.
  • Applicant businesses should demonstrate commercial viability and relevant experience in the technical areas proposed in the application.
  • For-profit businesses that have achieved the following: 
    • For a product that retails at less than USD100 per unit, at least 1500-unit sales 
    • For a product that retails at more than USD100, at least 500-unit sales
  • Non-government organizations, farmer cooperatives, consulting firms, business/member associations and non-profit entities will not be considered lead applicants but could form part of partnership applications.  
  • At least two partners may be included in a consortium.
  • Each partnership application should have a digital agriculture technology component (with an ag tech company).
  • Each partnership application needs to have existing personnel with relevant experience and qualifications to implement the proposed scope of work.
  • Each partnership needs to demonstrate experience working in Zambia, including with producers and other market actors, development partners, non-governmental organizations, and government agencies and organizations. All applicants must have a presence and experience in the country and be able to operate legally in Zambia with documented evidence, such as appropriate visas, licenses, permits, local company registration documents etc.
  • The proposed partners should demonstrate that they have been working together for at least 9 months prior to the application submission and demonstrate a commitment to continue working together post the Accelerator program where possible.

Evaluation criteria

Proposals are expected to present the applicants intended focus, predictable results and key preliminary indicators that the project will deliver within the project period. AICCRA aims to reach 300,000 beneficiaries within the project duration. The number of expected beneficiaries reached through the partnership should be reflected in the solicitation. Proposals are expected to indicate timeline to achieve these results. These include:

Innovation of business case

Proposals should present clear product(s) and clear business model(s). The business model(s) should indicate objective(s) for growth of their CSA/CIS solution in the selected supply chain and markets. Market opportunities and constraints should be explained together with activities to work within the specific market setting. Applicants will be evaluated on how the proposed partnership will meet business goals and objectives while engaging and supporting smallholder farmers.

Commercial viability and sustainability

Applicants will be evaluated on the potential for product or service growth in the selected market(s). Confirmation of a long-term commitment to engaging smallholder farmers in business operations should be provided. Applicants will be evaluated on how the product or services will continue to scale after project closure. A sustainability and/or exit strategy should be indicated. Applicants should provide a two-year projection of revenue, costs and net income.

Implementation plan
  • Applicants should outline their plan for implementation including key activities/milestones to be completed and the timeframe for each. Applicants should discuss other actors and stakeholders (either within a proposed consortium or external to the partnership) that will need to be engaged to support implementation (for example, cooperatives, industry associations, marketing agents, etc.) and describe how and when that engagement will occur.
  • Applicants not already registered in Zambia must include a plan outlining how this registration or legal presence will be secured prior to award. This plan must include the steps required for registration as well as timelines for completing each step. Applicants should address how this registration process will impact the implementation timeline for proposed activities.
  • The proposal should indicate the type of evidence or information that will be created for mainstreaming CSA/CIS into country-level agricultural practices and policies, and public and private investment plans. This would include how the applicant approaches resource sustainability.
  • The proposal must indicate the type of data to be collected, and proposed roles and activities for the data collection and the proposed roles and activities for the data collected. Proposals should also indicate how applicants would collaborate in research during the data collection and through a learning process. The proposals should also indicate how the data and research results/evidence would contribute to scaling the business model and broader partnership impact.
Smallholder and marginalized population impact
  • The proposals should demonstrate how the business model(s) will meet business goals and objectives while engaging and supporting smallholder farmers and marginalized populations, especially women and youth. The proposals should indicate who are smallholder farmers, women and youth and the number of those target groups the business model(s) intends to reach and how the model can increase their incomes and expand their market access.
  • Especially, the proposal should demonstrate how the business model(s) will oversee opportunities of and constraints to include women along CSA/CIS scaling pathways, address challenges to existing gender norms and power structures preventing women from adopting CSA/CIS, manage risks of women being left behind in the up-take of labor-saving mechanized irrigation technologies, and contextualize the products and services to the given context where women clients live and to their needs
Organizational, management and technical capacity

Applicants will be evaluated on business, management, and technical qualifications with regard to scaling products or services in smallholder markets. Applicants should articulate the organization’s experience operating in smallholder markets, identify potential capacity gaps in systems or management, and provide solutions for filling those gaps. The proposals should present learning activities and mechanisms to enhance the capacity outcomes for the partners.


The following figure shows the next steps for the Accelerator Grant from June 2024 onwards. The deadline for submission of an application is the 19th of July.

the timeline explained

Application process

Please read the following instructions carefully in order to successfully submit an application:

Step one: Click on “apply” below and enter your company information

  • Only the main applicant is required to fill in the application form. The main applicant is required to create a VC4A-account (free of charge)
  • The main applicant provides information on their organization in parts 1 and 2
  • Please download the proposal guideline document and fill the proposal to upload to your application form

Step two: Fill in the application of the partner applicants

  • The main applicant also enters the information of the partner applicants
  • Four additional partners can be added to the application in the form (part 3 to 6)
  • If the partnership consists of less than 5 applicants, please only fill in information for the correct amount and leave the additional fields empty
  • If the partnership consists of more than 5 applicants, please indicate so in the application form (step 3)
  • Only active partners listed in the application will be eligible for funding

Step three: Choose a bundle and fill in the application form

  • In part 7, please indicate in the drop-down list to which bundle you wish to apply
  • Download the respective application sheet (.doc) and fill it in together with your partners
  • Submit the sheet as well company registrations as well as CVs of the founders by uploading them to the upload field
  • You can always close the online application portal and return later, allowing you to work offline on the application sheet document with your partners. Your progress will be saved

Step four: Submit the application

  • After filling in the required fields and uploading your application material, please click “submit”. Only fully submitted applications will be considered
  • If you have questions at any time during the application process, please reach out to 

 Apply NOW

We look forward to your successful application!