SAIS Investment Readiness Programme 2023

For digital and sustainable African AgTech and FoodTech Start-ups

Are you running a tech start-up and want to challenge the status quo of the agriculture and food tech industry? Do you have a solution that makes the industry more sustainable and profitable while at the same time empowering value chain actors? Do you want support to learn how to raise investment, reach more customers, and have a more significant impact?

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

What do we offer?

The SAIS Investment Readiness Programme (IRP) offers African tech start-ups from the agriculture, food, and livestock sectors a year-long tailor-made support program to make you investor ready and scale up your business! (Available in English and French)

Regular sessions of personalized coaching with local and international experts
Tailored to your specific and individual needs, during which strategies and measures for rapid growth will be developed and implemented.

Access to online training (tailored)
Structured around several key themes to develop your start-up further, e. g. Pitch Training, Growth Strategy, Data Analytics & Management, Term Sheet, Valuation, Market Analysis, Marketing & Sales, and so on.

Integrating you into a local hub (optional)
To get you a workplace for 6 months and facilitate contacts with major players in the local start-up scene, if needed.

Access to additional services
to optimize certain key areas of your business, e. g. legal advice, online marketing, digital product optimization, design, and coding.

Access to the GIZ network
of our global presence, local expertise, far-reaching networks, and years of experience working with the private sector, investors, and business partners. The network can help you to improve the visibility and contacts with start-ups nationally and internationally through participation in national, regional, and international events dedicated to African entrepreneurs.

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 start-ups:

  • Our Female Leader Circle meets with the aim of bringing women in leadership positions together, networking and learning from each other. Input sessions on topics that are of special interest for female leaders serve as a starting point for discussion.
  • A bi-annual Female Founders Award recognizes the achievement of female founder.

Overview

1
Closes October 31, 2022
Organizer SAIS Investment Readiness Programme 2023
Targets Africa
Sectors
Agribusiness, Agritech, Animal farming, Clean technology and energy, Crop farming, E-commerce, EdTech, Fintech, Food and beverage, Food production, Logistics

Who are we?

We are a Pan-African programme for African tech start-ups from the agriculture, food and livestock sectors, offering digital products that can increase the income of their customers. The Investment Readiness Programme (IRP) aims to improve investor readiness, so that the start-ups supported can raise more capital to reach more customers and achieve greater impact.

The IRP is offered by “Scaling Digital Agriculture Innovations through Start-up (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 Bayer Cares Foundation and 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 2023, up to 20 start-ups will be selected to participate in a year-long Investment Readiness Programme.

Starting in 2019, SAIS has accelerated more than 51 outstanding African start-ups:

 

Seven investment readiness criteria are used to assess and monitor the investment readiness level and progress of your start-up while participating in the IRP.

  • Indicator 1: The competencies of the founding team are improved (e.g., pitch training, operations management, leadership, start-up valuation (“pre-money”), clear roles and responsibility of the management team).  
  • Indicator 2: The start-up’s data room is improved and all necessary documents for an effective due diligence are available (e.g., pitch deck, annual balance sheet, accounting, bank statements, forecasts and exit strategy). 
  • Indicator 3: A digital system for monitoring the start-up’s user base is established and provides data (“data analytics”).
  • Indicator 4: A market research and competitiveness analysis of the start-up is available for the own national market and possible expansion markets.
  • Indicator 5: A strategy and a catalogue of measures for marketing & sales is available and guides the actions of the founding team for scaling the start-up.
  • Indicator 6: The product of the start-up is market-ready (e.g., customer-driven product development, product-market fit, data security, suitable for national regulations).
  • Indicator 7: The start-up’s customer growth is improved (improved customer acquisition rate).

What are the benefits?

The Investment Readiness program includes:

Weekly advisory and coaching sessions

Weekly advisory and coaching sessions held virtually during which strategies and measures for rapid growth and scaling, product improvement and innovation, leadership and business management operations are developed and implemented with the startups.

Additional services

Based on the startup’s commitment, access to additional services to optimize certain segments (e.g. legal advice, marketing, coding, product optimization, etc.) of the startups.

Hub integration

Integration of the selected startups in one of our partner hubs in their home country in order to facilitate their visibility and establish contact with relevant actors in the local startup scene.

Access to GIZ-SAIS network

Access to investors and business partners from the GIZ-SAIS network.

Extended services

Add-on services for female entrepreneurs.

Meet-up events

Up to three in-person meet-up events. At the moment the plan is to start the IRP with a big SAIStival Event in Nairobi, Kenya which will serve as a Demo Day for the current cohort and as kick-off workshop for the new 2023 cohort. More information about the timeline below.

Who can apply?

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

Legal form

  • You have to be registered and operate in Africa
  • You have to provide a certificate of registration

Team (founders)

  • You must have a founding team of at least two people who work ideally full time for the start-up
  • 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 that positively impacts the incomes of its customers
  • Your product must have a positive impact on the African AgTech, FoodTech or livestock sector (vertical sectors that have an influence can be accepted like eCommerce, FinTech, Logistics, EdTech etc)

Market access and traction

  • You must have launched your digital product at least six months before the application period
  • Your start-up has to provide evidence of traction (customer base, first revenue)

Business model

  • Your start-up should have an easily understandable and convincing business model.
  • Your start-up should have a clear statement of the problem, clear digital solution, clear customer segment, and clear revenue stream.

Add-ons (But not musts)

  • You have women in your founding team or as senior managers
  • You or one of your founding team members has an IT background
  • You and your founding team members have previous start-up experience
  • With your product you target a vulnerable group of customers

Selection process timeline

  1. GIZ internal preselection process: November 1st – 25th, 2022
  2. Interviews with the preselected start-ups: November 28th – December 16th, 2022
  3. First information if you might be selected, December 2022
  4. Final Confirmation: January 2023
  5. Onboarding: January 2023

Instructions and Tips for the Application

  • Please apply online until October 31, 2022, by clicking on the “apply” button above.
  • Start early with the process and pay attention to your video pitch (max. 2 minutes) and pitch deck.
  • Please provide all the information requested to avoid your exclusion during the pre-selection process.
  • You can apply in English or French:
  • Good Luck – We are looking forward to receiving your application!

SAIS Investment Readiness Programme Timeline 2023

Mid of January to March – Define Development Plans

At the beginning, you will be assigned to a navigator who is the first point of contact from the SAIS team and will navigate you through the different opportunities you have within the programme. Therefore, the period between January and March will be used by the SAIS team to get to know you. This will happen online, but also in person at the location of your operations. The goal is to jointly define a development plan for the upcoming months.

In addition, we will organize joint online calls to bring you on board like adding you to the online platforms we use over the course of the SAIS IRP 2023 and clarify all open questions regarding the upcoming months. We are excited to get started! 

March – Kick-off at SAIStival 2023

Let’s get together! We annually organize a joint event to bring all new start-ups and start-ups from former Investment Readiness Programmes in one place. We believe that exchange among peers is very important. In the three-day event, called “SAIStival” you will get the chance to connect with like-minded people, experts 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 to become investor ready. During this time, you also have the opportunity to use SAIS-sponsored access to local hubs or co-workings spaces. 

September – Midterm Check-In

In this online workshop we will get together again as a group, but also in individual sessions to reflect your progress and set milestones for the upcoming and last period of the programme. 

September to March – 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 start-up and support you in making the right connections. It all ends in the SAIStival of 2024. 


Any questions?

Scroll down to find more information about the program in our FAQ. If you have any further questions that are not answered there, please don’t hesitate to contact us by email at SAIS@giz.de.

FAQ

The Investment Readiness Programme (IRP) is part of the GIZ project ‘Scaling Digital Agriculture Innovations through Start-up’” (SAIS). SAIS is 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 Bayer Cares Foundation and 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 in the AgTech, FoodTech and livestock industry.

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

  • Regular sessions of personalized coaching with local and international experts
  • Access to online trainings (tailored)
  • Access to additional services to optimize certain key areas (e. g. website / app optimisation, online marketing support, digital product optimisation, design, coding, legal advice)
  • Integration into a local hub or co-working space (optional)
  • Access to the GIZ network

Successful applicants have free access to our IRP benefits worth up to $50k. Unlike other accelerator programmes, we do not acquire shares of the companies that successfully applied to our Investment Readiness Programmes. However, during the IRPs, start-ups get access to investors and partners to raise more funding. So far, more than half of our start-ups raised capital during or after the SAIS programme. 

We support all types of start-ups whose business models contribute to our overall goal of increasing incomes in agriculture, food and livestock through digital innovations. This effect can not only be created by AgTech and FoodTech start-ups, but also by related industries such eCommerce, FinTech, Logistics, EdTech etc. and that are linked to the agriculture and food sector.

Our belief at SAIS is: Competition is good for business. However, we try to avoid accepting competitive companies from the same regions into the same programme class. With the growing SAIS alumni portfolio of companies/start-ups, there may be competitive companies in the broader SAIS network. 

  1. The accelerated start-ups 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 customers, funds raised and number of employees.  
  2. All data will only be collected to track the progress of each start-up during the programme and will not be published or shared with external third parties. 
  3. Each team needs to commit on average 3 hours per week for participating in the programme; this applies most often to the founders but not only. Co-Founders, CTO or higher management can also participate. But it has to be clear in 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 questionnaire with your customers to evaluate the impact of your product/service.

Yes! We support female founders and women in leading positions of the start-ups who face gender-specific challenges in the start-up sector in general and in the AgTech and FoodTech sector in particular, such as appearing and dealing in male-dominated start-up 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 start-up but also other female team members who are in higher positions in the company can benefit from it. For this reason, we developed certain formats like the ‘Female Leader Circle’ and ‘Female Founders Award’ to empower women to thrive in business.

We have multiple touchpoints with investors during the programme and our network is constantly growing. We offer a demo day and an alumni circle after the programme with opportunities to meet investors and interesting business partners. With committed start-ups we stay in touch over the course of the programme and try to support and connect whenever possible. So far, start-ups that participated in the SAIS IRPs, have raised more than 23 million USD in follow-up funding.

If you don’t have an office, we will try to access a local hub or co-working space to provide a workplace for your start-up and to facilitate contact with other players in the local start-up scene. The use of a hub or co-working space is entirely optional. SAIS offers this to interested start-ups for a duration of 6 months. A continued use of the space has to be covered by the start-up.

The primary language that we use in verbal and written communications during the programme is English. But we have a special track for start-ups from francophone countries in Africa and mentors and experts from these regions, so we can cover the needs of French speaking teams. We support at least 5 French-speaking start-up teams from Africa per year.

Going through multiple programmes simultaneously is not recommended, as your time commitment to your company and the programme might be challenging enough. However, you can participate in programmes before and after the SAIS IRP as you wish.

We don’t tell you what to do or when, but we create an environment conducive to help your start-up every day. On a regular basis, you will meet with one of our mentors and experts to discuss and define your next steps.

We use seven investment readiness criteria that measure the performance of the start-ups during the programme to improve their investment readiness:

  • 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 start-up’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 start-up’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 start-up.
  • Indicator 6: The start-up’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 start-up’s customer acquisition rate has improved.

 

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

Our overall goal at the SAIS project is to increase people’s income in the agri-food sector through proven digital innovations provided by the start-ups we support. To achieve this, we aim at improving the investment readiness of start-ups we support, so that they can raise more funds for growth. The Investment Readiness Programme aims to support African start-ups to improve their investor readiness, so that they can raise more capital to reach more customers and achieve greater impact.

If you work with GIZ, please let us know and indicate this clearly in the application. Most of the time, this is not a problem, even appreciated. If you have questions in advance, reach out to us via SAIS@giz.de

Our eligible criteria are:

Legal form

  • The start-up must be registered and operate in Africa
  • The start-ups must provide a certificate of registration

Team (founders)

  • The start-up must have a founding team of at least two people who work ideally full time for the start-up
  • The founding and management team should have entrepreneurial and technical experience in their area of operation

Digital product/service

  • The start-up must have a viable digital product that positively impacts the incomes of its customers
  • The product must have a positive impact on the African AgTech, FoodTech or livestock sector (vertical sectors that have an influence can be accepted like eCommerce, FinTech, Logistics, EdTech etc)

Market access and traction

  • The start-up must have launched its digital product at least six months before the application period
  • Start-ups must provide evidence of traction (customer base, first revenue)

Business model

  • The start-up should have an easily 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)

  • The team consists of women founders or women in high management positions
  • One of the founders has an IT background
  • The founding team has previous start-up experience
  • The start-up targets a vulnerable group of customers

The video is required for the application process, and we recommend it. 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.

Unfortunately, we don’t allow late applications to move through our very tight schedule for selection and to be fair to all applicants. But you can apply one year later for the next cohort.

We highly recommend that your founding team works in the company full time so that you can focus on your business to make it big. But we fully understand your decision not to quit your previous job quite yet, especially if your start-up 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.

After the deadline for application, we’ll review applications for about four weeks and asses about your team, market, progress and idea. Finally, our goal is to notify the final group of companies who will have the chance to join the selection day within eight weeks from the application closing date. 

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 must fill out the application form.

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:

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.

We are happy to consider any application considering our eligible criteria listed above. 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.

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