SAIS Investment Readiness Programme 2024

A programme for African Tech Startups in Agriculture, Food and Climate

Are you running a tech startup and want to transform the agriculture and food tech industry in Africa? Do you have a tech solution that makes the industry more sustainable and profitable while at the same time empowering value chain actors? Do you want support on raising investment, reaching more customers and having a significant impact?

Then this unique (and free!) investment readiness programme is for you!

What we offer

The SAIS Investment Readiness Programme (IRP) offers you a yearlong, tailor-made support programme to raise investments and scale up your business! Precondition is that your tech startup registered in Africa, works in Africa, and offers scalable, market-based solutions for agriculture, food or climate change. The Programme is available in English and French.


Sessions of personalized coaching with local and international experts. These are tailored to your specific needs to develop and implement strategies for rapid growth.

 


Access to individual online trainings
structured around several key themes to develop your startup further, e.g., pitch training, growth strategy, data analytics & management, term sheet, valuation, market analysis, marketing & sales.

 


Access to additional services.
To optimize certain key areas of your business we hold a specific budget that can cover, e. g. legal advice, online marketing, digital product optimization, design, coding and travel costs to conferences.

 

Integrating you into ecosystems. We offer you the opportunity of using a local hub or office space, connect you with peers and support you in increasing your visibility and facilitate contacts with major players in the local, regional and international startup ecosystems.

 

Access to our investor and partner network. By being part of our programme, you will be given the opportunity to meet the right people on regional, national, and international level to scale your business, either through potential investments or business partnerships.

 

Add-on: Programme for Female Leaders. In addition to the above-mentioned,we offer special support for female founders and women in leading positions of the startups through networking and peer to peer learning as well as increased visibility.

Overview

0
June 5, 2024
Organizer SAIS
Targets Africa
Sectors
Agribusiness, Agritech, Animal farming, Clean technology, Clean technology and energy, Crop farming, E-commerce, EdTech, Fintech, Food and beverage, Food production, Logistics

Who we are

We are a Pan-African programme for African tech startups from the agriculture, food sector and climate sectors (within, specifically including the livestock sector, that want to scale their business). The Investment Readiness Programmes (IRP) aims to improve investor readiness, so that the startups supported can raise more capital to reach more customers and achieve greater impact.

The IRP is offered by “Scaling digital Agriculture Innovations through Startup (SAIS)”, a project implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). It is co-funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Our overall goal at SAIS is to increase incomes in the African agri-food sector through scaling proven digital innovations.

For 2024, up to 20 startups will be selected to participate in our one yearlong Programme. Since 2019, SAIS has accelerated more than 46 outstanding FoodTech and AgTech startups:

Who can apply?

To be eligible for the SAIS Investment Readiness Programme, you must meet the following conditions:

Legal Form


You must be registered and operate in Africa.
You must provide a certificate of registration.

 


Team (founders)

You must have a team of at least two people who work ideally full time for the startup.
Your founding and management team should have entrepreneurial and technical experience in their area of operation.


Digital product/service

You must have a viable digital product or service that positively impacts society.
Your product must have a positive impact on the African AgTech or FoodTech sector, we specifically welcome applications from the livestock sector (vertical sectors that have an influence can be accepted like ClimateTech, eCommerce, FinTech, Logistics, EdTech, others).


Market access and traction

You must have launched your digital product at least six months before you submit your application to us.
Your startups must provide evidence of traction (customer base, first revenue).

 


Business model

Your startup should have an understandable and convincing business model.
This includes a clear statement of the problem, clear digital solution, clear customer segment, and clear revenue stream.

 


Add-ons (but not musts)

  • You are a female founder, or your team has women in high management positions.
  • You or one of your founding team members has an IT background.
  • You and your founding team members have previous startup experience.
  • Your product targets a vulnerable group of customers.

Program timeline

  • Mid of January to March – Define Development Plans

You will be paired with a navigator who serves as your main point of contact from the SAIS team. They will guide you through the various opportunities available in the programme. From January to March, we will focus on getting to know you. This will involve online interactions and, when possible, in-person meetings at your location. During this period, we will collaborate to outline a development plan for the coming months. Additionally, we will conduct joint online sessions to onboard you to the platforms we use throughout the SAIS IRP 2024.

  • February – Kick-off at SAIStival 2024

Let’s get together! We annually organize a joint event called the SAIStival which takes place back-to-back with an industry event. We bring all new startups and alumni in one place; we believe that exchange among peers is very important. At the event, called “SAIStival” you will get the chance to connect with like-minded people, experts, partners, investors and the whole SAIS team. The travel costs will be covered by GIZ. We are very much looking forward to this event!

  • March to September – Reaching Your Goals

During this period, you will fully concentrate on reaching the goals that you set with your navigators in the development plans. For that you will continuously work with the mentors, experts and partners of SAIS. During this time, you will already have the access to the investor and business partner network.

  • September – Midterm Check-In

We will get together again and reflect your progress and set milestones for the upcoming and last period of the programme.

  • September to February 2025 – Investor Meetings

After successfully working on your first set of goals from the development plans, we continue to work on the set milestones and start taking you on short trips to fairs, exhibitions and conferences to meet investors. Your navigator will help you to find the best fit for your startup and support you in making the right connections. It all ends in the SAIStival of 2025.

Instructions and tips for the application

  1. Please apply online on or before October 20th, 2023, by clicking on the “apply” button above. You can apply in English or in French!
  2. Start early with the process and pay attention to your video pitch (max. 2 minutes) and pitch deck.
  3. Please provide all the information requested to avoid your exclusion during the pre-selection process.
  4. We will provide Q&A sessions. The dates will be published on our LinkedIn Page.
  5. Good Luck – We are looking forward to receiving your application!

Selection process timeline

GIZ internal preselection process: October to November 17th, 2023
Interviews with the preselected startups:          November 20th – December 15th, 2023
First information if you might be selected: December 2023
Final confirmation: January 2024
Onboarding:a January 2024

Any questions?

The Investment Readiness Programme (IRP) is provided by the GIZ Project ‘Scaling Digital Agriculture Innovations through Startups’ (SAIS). The programme is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH (German Agency for International Cooperation) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). It is co-funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF). You can find more information about us and our team here or on our LinkedIn page.

Our overall goal at SAIS is to scale digital innovations from the AgTech, FoodTech, ClimateTech and LivestockTech industry in Africa. We believe that we can do this by supporting startups to become investment ready and to gain investments. Therefore, we run the ‘Investment Readiness Programme’. We provide valuable resources such as access to a network of experts, mentors, investors and business partners.

SAIS provides benefits worth up to $50k, which contain:

  • Sessions of personalized coaching with local and international experts tailored to your specific needs to develop and implement strategies for rapid growth.
  • Access to individual online trainings structured around several key themes to develop your startup further. Topics are defined each year to tackle the need of the current cohort and could include e.g. pitch training, growth strategy, data analytics & management, term sheet, valuation, market analysis, marketing & sales.
  • Access to additional services to optimize certain key areas of your business, get access to a specific budget that can cover, e. g. legal advice, online marketing, digital product optimization, design, coding and travel costs to conferences.
  • We offer you the opportunity to use a local hub or office space, where you can connect with peers. Furthermore, we support you in increasing your visibility and facilitate contacts with major players in the local, regional and international startup ecosystems.
  • By being part of our Investment Readiness Programme, you will be given the opportunity to meet people on regional, national, and international level to scale your business, either through potential investments or business partnerships.
  • In addition to the above-mentioned, we offer special support for female founders and women in leading positions of the startups through
    networking and peer to peer learning as well as increased visibility.

Our approach is to connect the start-ups we are supporting with potential investors and business partners, but we do not directly invest. Successful applicants that are chosen for the Investment Readiness Programmes (IRPs) will receive different services from us (please see answer under question 3) that are worth up to $50k. Unlike other accelerator or investment programmes, we do not acquire shares of the companies that successfully applied to our IRPs. However, during the IRPs, startups get access to investors and partners to raise more funding. So far, more than half of our startups raised capital during or one year after they concluded the IRP.

We are looking for AgTech and FoodTech startups, as well as related industries like ClimateTech, FinTech and LivestockTech including animal health tech. All African companies, including North Africa can apply with one exception, which is South Africa. The company needs to be registered in Africa.

Furthermore, the following eligibility criteria apply:

  • You must have a management team of at least two people who work ideally full time for the startup.
  • Your founding and management team should have entrepreneurial and technical experience in their area of operation.
  • You must have a viable digital product or service that positively impacts society.
  • You must have launched your digital product at least six months before you submit your application to us.
  • Your startup must provide evidence of traction (customer base, first revenue).
  • Your startup should have an understandable and convincing business model (clear statement of the problem, clear digital solution, clear customer segment, and clear revenue stream).

Add-ons, but not musts are:

  • You are a female founder, or your team has women in high management positions.
  • You or one of your founding team members has an IT background.
  • You and your founding team members have previous startup experience.
  • Your product targets a vulnerable group of customers.

You can apply to the SAIS IRP if your digital innovation fits into one of the following categories or technologies used somehow in the broader AgTech, FoodTech or livestock sector, including ClimateTech:

Technologies:
Agricultural intelligent machinery, Artificial intelligence (AI), Autonomous systems, Autonomous vehicles, Augmented reality, Big data, Blockchain, Cloud computing, e-commerce tools, Information management systems (IMS), Internet of things (IoT), Data analytics, Digital learning software, Drones, Machine learning, Marketplace service, Precision farming, Robotics, Sensors, SMS-services, Online payment processing, USSD, Virtual Reality (VR), 3D Printing.

Do you think that your category is missing and should be listed? Tell us at: sais@giz.de.

Competition is good for business. However, we try to avoid accepting competitive companies from the same regions into the same cohort. If you see a competitor in one of our previous cohorts, don’t worry.

  1. The accelerated startups commit to provide data about their progress from the start of the programme until at least one year after the end of the programme, concerning: revenue, number of users, customers and potential ecosystem actors, funds raised and number of employees on a monthly basis.
  2. All data will only be collected to track the progress of each startup during the programme and will not be published or shared with external third parties.
  3. Each team needs to commit on average 2 hours per week for participating in the programme; this applies most often to the founders but not only. Co-Founders, CTOs or higher management can also participate. But it has to be clear from the beginning who will join over the whole period of the programme.
  4. We require access to data and customers, with the agreement that we can execute at least two times a survey questionnaire with your customers to evaluate the impact of your product/service.

Yes! We try to always also select businesses that have female founders or women in leading positions. We support them on different topics, such as making deals in male-dominated startup ecosystems (pitch, negotiations, etc.), balancing job (startup leadership) and family, but also topics such as gender-specific product development and customer orientation. The experience from the last years has shown that not only the founders of a startup, but also other female team members who are in higher positions in the company can benefit from these measures. For this reason, we developed certain formats like the ‘Female Leader Circle’ and ‘Female Founders Award’ to empower women to thrive in business.

At the end of our Investment Readiness Programme we do not say good-bye, but you will stay part of our community. What does this mean exactly? We offer monthly community sessions where you get new insights, meet interesting and important people such as investors and also learn from and connect to your peers. Usually, you would also stay in contact with your “navigator” – your main point of contact in the SAIS team – and we would keep you informed about upcoming opportunities. Our aim is to constantly grow the community to have the benefit for all start-ups, a network for FoodTech and AgTech start-ups all over Africa.

If your company does not have an office, we support you to access a local hub or co-working space to provide a workplace for you and your team. We have a specific budget for this, which you can use, but do not need to use as you can also use it for different services. Once the budget is consumed, a continued use of the space must be covered by the startup.

Yes, we have a special track for startups from francophone countries in Africa and mentors and experts from these regions, so we can cover the needs of French speaking teams. We support up to 5 French-speaking startup teams from Africa per year. For all the other startups, the primary language that we use in verbal and written communication during the programme is English.

Yes, each year we try to select two to five startups that create digital innovations for the livestock sector. They receive similar support like all the other startups and the language of the Programme would be only English. This specific Investment Readiness Programme is co-financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Going through multiple programmes simultaneously is not recommended, as the time commitment to the company and the different programmes at the same time will be challenging for you. In the end, it’s your decision.

Each day will look different for each startup. It mainly depends on the different services you will choose from. Your navigator from the SAIS team will help you to identify your priorities and guide you through the different requirements.

Participate in the Q&A sessions. We will offer (in the beginning of September and the end of October before the closing of the deadline) online meetings where you can ask all questions about the Investment Readiness Programme and the application process. We will announce the dates on our LinkedIn page.

This is someone from the SAIS team who will be your main contact point during the Investment Readiness Programme. He or she will visit you, if possible, on site, develop with you your main goals and KPIs for the time of the Investment Readiness Programme. You will have regular check-ins and the opportunity to ask all questions that you might have.

The video is required for the application process. We are not looking for a professionally produced video; we want to see what you are working on, why you’re excited about it, how your team works together, and what makes you unique. You can record a video with your phone but make sure the audio quality is good.

Please reach out to VC4A directly for any support needed with your application after submission.

You can reach out to Akram or Tegan from the VC4A team.

Please note that this is only intended for technical matters only (i.e. difficulty uploading a document, difficulty uploading pitch video, changing pitch deck version attached..etc.) other non-technical matters will be disregarded.

We use seven criteria to measure the performance of the startups during the programme:

  • Indicator 1: The managerial skills of the founding team are improved, and the sharing of roles and responsibilities within the management team is clearly defined.
  • Indicator 2: The startup’s database is updated and all the documents necessary for adequate ‘due diligence’ by investors are available (e.g., pitch deck, annual balance sheet, accounting report, bank statements, forecasts, and strategy release).
  • Indicator 3: A digital user base monitoring system is established and provides reliable data.
  • Indicator 4: A market study and an analysis of the startup’s competitiveness are available for the national and possible expansion markets.
  • Indicator 5: A strategy and a catalogue of measures for marketing and sales are available and guide the actions of the founding team to develop the startup.
  • Indicator 6: The startup’s digital product is customer-focused and ready to market (e.g. product adaptation to the target market, data security guaranteed, adaptation to applicable national regulations).
  • Indicator 7: The startup’s customer acquisition rate has improved.

These indicators are based on what investors look at and addressing them will help you to raise investment.

In addition to investment readiness, we measure the customer growth of the startups, their impact on the income of their customers, food security and climate adaptation, and of course the investments raised during the programme until one year after.

If you have worked with GIZ as an employee or contractor, please let us know and indicate this clearly in the application. Most of the time, this is not an issue. If you have questions in advance, reach out to us via SAIS@giz.de.

We highly recommend that your founding team works in the company full-time so that you can focus on your business. But we fully understand your decision not to quit your previous job quite yet, especially if your startup is still early stage.

We don’t exclude applications just because they have a single founder. But we look for great balanced teams who have a full range of skills. Therefore, we highly recommend you seek co-founders who balance your skillset. If you are a single founder, you should build a strong and very committed management team around you. By the way, that’s very often also a requirement among investors.

No! We treat application data confidentially. We take measures to protect your data and information, as this guarantees our core business model and good reputation.

No, you just have to fill out the application form.

We are happy to consider any application considering our eligible criteria listed in question 5. Just remember that your digital innovation should address the African agriculture and food sector.

Please get in touch with us at sais@giz.de and tell us about the company and why you think they’ll be a good fit.

Yes, NOVABLE and VC4A are our partners supporting us in the selection of startups. They also actively reach out to companies on our behalf and inform them about the open call for application.

Team

Portfolio

Name Country Sector(s)
Winich Farms
Connecting food producers with informal processors directly
Nigeria Agritech, Fintech, Transport and logistics
Kitovu Technology Company
Transforming African agriculture, one farmer at a time.
Nigeria Agritech, Artificial intelligence, Machine learnin…
ifarm360
Youth-powered agri-food distribution for Africa.
Kenya Agribusiness, Agritech, E-commerce
AGRIX
Access to faming expertise & financial services to small-scale farmers
Cameroon Agritech, Big data, Financial services
Bankly Technologies
Taking financial services to the last mile
Nigeria Banking, Investment management, Remittance
Foodsasa
Turn your bytes into mega bites!
Tanzania E-commerce, Logistics, Transport and logistics
Lentera Limited
Precision agriculture for every farmer
Kenya Agribusiness, Agritech
DMA Limited
VIDA Local (Village Digital Agents) the last mile partner.
Tanzania Agribusiness, Agritech
BIZY TECH Limited
Powered by Innovations
Tanzania Agribusiness, Agritech, Software as a Service
eMsika
Simplifying business
Zambia Agribusiness, E-commerce
Umojalands System
SaaS for financier digitally connect to farmer data and derisk lending
Zimbabwe Agritech
Rural Farmers Hub
Crop intelligence solution for optimal farming decisions and timing.
Nigeria Agritech
Bringo Fresh
If its not safe, its not food.
Uganda Agritech
Freshbag
Connecting african farmers and street vendors to a fair marketplace
Cameroon Agribusiness, Food and beverage, Retail and wholes…
Phema Agri
Agriculture First. Invest Now!!
Tanzania Agritech, Fintech, Investment management
Arinifu Technologies Ltd
Peace of mind raising your chicken
Kenya Clean technology, Farm machinery, Food production
Pricepally
Urban Africa's digital food cooperative for families and businesses.
Nigeria Agribusiness, Agritech, E-commerce
GGEM Farming
Malawi's First Ethical Market Platform- #BoostingFarmerIncomes
Malawi Agribusiness, Agritech, Crop farming
MyFugo
To offer Smart financial and technological agricultural solutions to rural agri
Kenya Financial services
Grow For Me
Now everyone can farm!
Ghana Agritech, Food production, Marketing and PR
AgroMall Discovery & Extension Services Limited
An AgriTech Company for a digitized and interconnected ecosystem
Nigeria Agribusiness, Financial services
Mozare3
Agri-Business Platform
Egypt Agritech
Anteja Africa
We bring farmers out of poverty by empowering African agribusinesses.
Kenya Agribusiness
FarmSpeak
We Redefine Agriculture Through Technology
Nigeria Agritech, Animal farming, Big data
Jaguza Tech
Improve livestock production to strengthen food security
Uganda Diversified services, Enterprise software
MyVarm
Crowd source micro farms in a gamified network
Egypt Agribusiness, Agritech
Afri-Farmers Market
Helping rural youth overceome poverty through agribusiness
Rwanda Agribusiness
JABU Logistics
Deliver goods to informal settlement businesses while getting data
Namibia Big data, Food and beverage, Logistics
Kwikbasket
Refining the agricultural and consumer space in Africa using Big Data
Kenya Agribusiness, Agritech, Internet of things (IoT)
Kwidex
Funding Agriculture Just Got Easy
Ghana Agribusiness, Fintech, Investment management
Zaidi Technologies
Rebuilding the Informal Dairy Value Chain
Kenya Agribusiness

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