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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

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.

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.

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:


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

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 and tell us about the company and why you think they’ll be a good fit.