WRI 2023 Land Restoration Entrepreneurs

Restoring degraded forests, farmland and pasture

The Top 15 Land Restoration Entrepreneurs will receive Launchpad Grants and the top 100 applicants will participate in WRI and Fledge’s largest Land Accelerator yet!

This year’s Land Accelerator is in partnership with AUDA-NEPAD and in support of AFR100, the pan-African initiative aiming to begin restoring 100 million ha of degraded landscapes by 2030

In 2018, World Resources Institute (WRI) and Fledge launched the Land Accelerator, the world’s first training and mentorship program targeted specifically toward businesses that restore degraded forests, farmland, and pasture. It’s a curated program that builds the capacity of restoration entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, engage Investors and build strong partnerships, impact both the environment and the local communities.

What is forest and landscape restoration?

Forest and landscape restoration (FLR) refers to the process of regaining ecological functionality in deforested or degraded landscapes while improving the well-being of people who live in these places. FLR is not just about planting trees but rather encompasses a variety of approaches aimed at achieving the ecological, social, and economic goals of those who live in a landscape. These approaches are based on science and best practices, rooted in the local context, and anchored by traditional and indigenous knowledge. Common approaches to FLR include, but are not limited to, agroforestry (planting trees on cropland), reforestation, low-carbon agriculture, and silvopastures (trees on grazelands).  Done right, restoration practices can improve crop yields, increase water retention and biodiversity, and create jobs and other economic benefits for local communities.

2023 Land Accelerator Program

In 2023, WRI and our partners at Fledge and AUDA-NEPAD are taking a novel approach to the Land Accelerator Africa. This year, we are continuing to grow the network of land restoration entrepreneurs in Africa by selecting 100 entrepreneurs from across the continent to join us for an all-virtual business creation and growth accelerator. At least 50 of the participants will be under 35 years of age, and/or female company leaders.  By the end of the program, entrepreneurs will have accessed the trainings and tools need to complete:

  • A compelling one-minute pitch to hook investors, customers, and potential partners.
  • A 10-12 slide pitch deck targeted towards investors.
  • An environmental indicator measurement, management, and marketing plan.
  • A 3-5-year financial model to visualize growth projections and to identify capital needs.
  • Increased confidence in your business’s mission and operations.

Why participate?

All restoration entrepreneurs from Africa are encouraged to apply to the Land Accelerator. The top 100 applicants will be accepted to the program and receive access to:

  • 3 months of exclusive, weekly live trainings
  •  1-year access to Fledge’s online e-learning lessons
  • Templates to create content to help your business thrive
  • Weekly office hours with mentors who will lend their expertise to discuss how to integrate new concepts and tools into your business strategy.
  • Weekly networking sessions to speak with and learn from other land restoration entrepreneurs in your cohort.
  • Weekly deep dives on restoration business types with peer leaders to share and integrate new business ideas.
  • Additionally, all participants will have the opportunity to apply for a Land Accelerator Investment Pack, which will be awarded to the top 15 entrepreneurs.

Recipients of the investment packs will receive:

  •  A 90-minute group mentorship session with members of the Land Accelerator mentor network who will provide tailored feedback and suggestions to further develop your business.
  • An investment coaching meeting with a Land Accelerator organizer to develop your investment and innovation grant plan.
  • The opportunity to present your 3-minute business pitch at the virtual Land Accelerator Demo Day, an event that brings together the 15 grant recipients and business and social investors from across
    the continent.
  • The opportunity to attend an in-person land Accelerator in Malawi, later in the year. (This depends on Pandemic Situation at that time)
  • An Opportunity to receive Grant Funding (depending on availability of funds) and/ or Investment from the Land Accelerator and Terra Fund
  • An Opportunity to become Restoration Champion

Eligibility criteria

  1. Applications based anywhere on the African continent. Applications must be written in either English or French.
  2. All entrepreneurs whose business model clearly centers around land restoration – through practices such as sustainable agriculture, reforestation, agroforestry – are invited to apply. Businesses whose activities result in the conversion or destruction of natural forests or other ecosystems will not be accepted.
  3. The program seek to scale companies who restore land therefore priority will be given to companies that atleast have a prototype, if not a product or service in the market with customers. Idea-stage companies may apply, as novel, highly impactful ideas will be considered but the programing is tuned toward growing operational businesses. Small- and medium-sized enterprises that are showing success and in need of growth capital are especially encouraged to apply.
  4. Categories of business models that are restoring land include: Agro-forestry, silvopasture- bringing trees to farms, Organic land amendments and agricultural inputs, Non-timber forest products, Sustainably-produced forest products, Tree planting – plantations, Tree planting – native species or interspersing commercial trees and native trees, Fruit trees, productive trees, interplanting with other crops or native tree species, Specific plantings that restore land or fight desertification (i.e. bamboo brings moisture to soil and builds humus; cashew plantations protect against soil erosion, contribute to increasing soil fertility, and create a cooler microclimate.), Urban forestry, Bee keeping, Livelihoods through forest conservation or products and Conservation agriculture techniques and consulting.
  5. Selected businesses will be based on five criteria: scalability, replicability, profitability, environmental impact, and social impact. The selection committee will also consider other aspects of the company, including uniqueness, quality of the team, and current progress.
  6. Entrepreneurs are expected to attend all of the weekly, 90-minute live webinars and the other networking events.
  7.   Investment Packs will be awarded to the top 15 entrepreneurs from the Land Accelerator Africa cohort who submit the following prerequisites: Successful attendance at 75% of weekly meetings, Company factsheet, 10-12 slide pitch deck, 5-10 minute site-visit video and link to their website.

What is the Land Accelerator and how does it support global restoration goals?

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 65 percent of land in Africa is impacted by degradation every year. This degradation can encumber economic growth and exacerbate the impacts of climate change. However, African nations have pledged to take action to reverse the tide of deforestation and land degradation. Through global initiatives such as the Bonn Challenge and regional partnerships like the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100), countries across Africa have pledged to restore millions of hectares of land.

To help countries achieve this ambitious goal, the World Resources Institute (WRI) launched the Land Accelerator, the world’s first accelerator program targeted specifically towards businesses that restore degraded forests and farmland. First launched in Africa in 2018, the Land Accelerator provides entrepreneurs with mentorship and networking opportunities, technical training, and workshops
to build storytelling and pitching skills. Participants will leave the program more empowered to connect with potential investors so they can take their business to the next stage of growth.

The Vision

The Land Accelerator envisions a world where Land Restoration businesses can scale to regenerate more hectares of land and impact the livelihoods of more rural dwellers. We will achieve this vision through identifying, building capacity, and promoting successful land restoration entrepreneurs as  ambassadors of land restoration business models that are financially sustainable and ecology-promoting investments. We invite both debt and equity investors to join us on this journey and to get to know top Land Restoration business models from around the globe.


March 31, 2023
Program dates Apr 25 - Nov 8, 2023
Organizer World Resources Institute
Website Visit website
Targets Africa
Agribusiness, Clean technology and energy, Environmental services, Utilities, Accounting services, Agritech, Artificial intelligence, Big data, Business services, Consulting and business development, Diversified services, E-commerce, E-learning, EdTech, Enterprise software, Fintech, Food production, Information technology, Internet, Internet of things (IoT), Manufacturing, Mobile, Smart city solutions, Water treatment, Water utilities
SDG (17) All