WFP IGNITE Food Systems Challenge Rwanda

An accelerator program for post-revenue Eastern African food systems innovators

Apply to receive up to US $50,000 in equity-free funding, mentorship and access to the world’s largest humanitarian organization.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and Impact Hub Kigali (IHK), with the support of USAID Bureau of Humanitarian Affairs (BHA) and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, are looking for Rwanda’s brightest and newest entrepreneurial solutions on how to tackle hunger, improve food security and strengthen food systems.

The IGNITE Food Systems Challenge is a first of its kind initiative to support Rwandan start-ups, SMEs and cooperatives to scale up their solutions, contributing to the economy while creating a positive social impact by addressing different gaps in the food system. The Challenge will provide a platform to pitch to win both financial and technical support.

Applications can be submitted until 9 February 2022 at 11:59 pm (EAT).

Scroll down to read more details about the Challenge.

What we are looking for

Startups, SMEs, and cooperatives contributing towards food security in areas such as resilience to shocks and stress, access to safe and nutritious food, optimizing food supply chains, empowering smallholder farmers, and advancing food security for all.

The scope of the Challenge is kept broad, covering food production, food transformation & food consumption. Furthermore, entities covering goods and services required for processing, marketing, consumption, and disposition of goods from agriculture, forestry or fisheries are also eligible to leverage this opportunity and apply. Similarly, entities in the agro-processing/value-addition parts of the supply chain, such as post-harvest handling and storage, agricultural financing, and strengthening smallholder market access, are particularly relevant and encouraged to apply.

What we offer

  • Funding: Apply to receive up to $50,000* in equity-free funding 
  • 6 months acceleration support: Benefit from technical support to strengthen your skills and address any gaps in your business, with a tailored made curriculum and direct connections to experts and mentors
  • Networking and exposure: You will be able to tap into and leverage our strong network of public, private, and government partners

How it works

1. Apply for the program: Help us get to know your vision, your team, and tell us why your venture should be chosen
2. Shortlisted applicants will have access to skills trainings in preparation for the Pitch Event as well as undergo a due diligence process in Feb/March 2022.
3. Take the stage at an exclusive pitch event: If shortlisted, you’ll have the chance to pitch your venture to an audience of potential partners, investors, and officials at an exclusive pitch event in March 2022. Up to six start-ups will have the opportunity to move to the next stage of acceleration support.
4. Acceleration support: Winning teams from the pitch event will receive up to US $50,000 in funding, as well as access to technical support according to their specific business needs and exposure to WFP’s vast field operations over a 6-month period.


  • Applications close: 9th February 2022
  • Announcement of shortlisted startups: Mid February
  • Skills trainings & due diligence: February – March 2022
  • Pitch Day: March 2022
  • 6 months acceleration phase: April – September 2022


  • Your entity must possess a valid registration/certificate of incorporation for operating in Rwanda
  • Have proof of a revenue-generating business (total turnover in the case of cooperatives) of at least the equivalent of 5,000 USD for the year 2020-21
  • Be a team of at least 3 full-time members dedicated to the SME/cooperative, including the founding team
  • At least 50% of your founding and/or senior management team must be from Rwanda/East Africa
  • The entity must have key operations in Rwanda

Ventures that are women-led and/or have taken demonstrated action towards promoting women in their supply chain are especially encouraged to apply.

How we select ventures

We will select based on the following criteria:

  • Level of innovation: the solution solves a food challenge in an innovative way
  • Impact: the solution has a strong impact on strengthening food systems
  • Financial sustainability: the venture has a clear business model and is financially sustainable
  • Level of traction: the venture shows traction and demonstrates impact already
  • Scalability: the venture has a strong potential to be scaled up
  • Team: The team combines the right experience and demonstrates commitment to scale the

Applications are reviewed by WFP, our implementing partners, and external experts. While we welcome
applicants working across all stages of the food system, preference will be given to those who already
show traction and market validation to support their growth.

Implementing partners

In Rwanda, the Ignite Food Systems Challenge is implemented by the World Food Programme (WFP) and Impact Hub Kigali (IHK), with the support of USAID Bureau of Humanitarian Affairs (BHA) and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Contact information

If you have any questions, please contact us at