Dialogue for Action and Brokerage West Africa

Fostering Knowledge, Communication & Innovation Hubs

At the dawn of 2020, the number of hungry and malnourished people around the world was on the rise due to an increase in violent conflicts and climate change impacts.

Today, over 800 million people face chronic undernourishment and over 100 million people are in need of lifesaving food assistance. The novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, risks undermining the efforts of humanitarian and food security organizations seeking to reverse these trends.

From health to food crisis

Besides the health crisis, the COVID-19 is triggering the most severe economic crisis since the Second World War threatening food security, particularly in countries with low income and poor healthcare infrastructure. Economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to decline from 2.4 percent in 2019 to – 2.1 to -5.1% in 2020 (World Bank).
Africa’s 1.2 billion people face the highest percentage of undernourishment on the planet, affecting over 20 percent of the population. The COVID-19 virus has proved its lethality especially among the elderly or those with underlying medical conditions. This group is likely to include people suffering from malnourishment.
COVID-19 may cause breaks in food supply chains, food shortages and food price spikes.

Links between the environment and food systems

The increasing pressure on ecosystems involves, in a directly proportional way, greater risks for the health of plants, animals, and humans.
Scientific evidence allows linking environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, and the emergence of zoonoses, such as COVID-19. With the growth of global population, increasing exchanges and the rise of urbanization, interfaces of humans and forests and wildlife are increasing (forest or mining extraction, wildlife consumption, reduced distance between settlements and wildlife). These factors create new opportunities for viral transmission and multiply the risk of pathogens spill over from animals to humans.
Unsustainable models of industrial food systems could help push smallholders into poverty. This also contributes to increasing pressure on natural resources, which in turn are contributing to the emergence of zoonosis.

LEAP4FNSSA the 3 topics of the brokerage

LEAP4FNSSA is looking for innovative solutions to mitigate the socio-economic and environmental impacts of pandemics, with particular attention to the climatic dimension. In this context, importance will be given to the following topics:

  1. Innovation and digitalization in agriculture: we are looking for innovative ideas helping small farmers make informed decisions to improve agricultural production and the overall sustainability of food systems, “from farm to fork”.

  2. Short value chains: we are looking for innovations supporting circular agricultural practices and strengthening the relationship between agricultural production and local food consumption.

  3. Agroecological transitions of food systems: we are looking for new ideas that link the health of agroecosystems, animals, and humans, to food production and consumption.

Who can apply for the LEAP4FNNSA West Africa Workshop 2020?

LEAP4FNSSA is looking for a maximum of 25 young innovators, start-ups and entrepreneurs using evidence-based research results and applying digital solutions to the agriculture and food sector.

Particularly start-ups working along value chains in agriculture and food production, including digital products or services that help mitigate the impact of COVID-19, are invited to apply.

What we offer

Selected idea carriers, young innovators, entrepreneurs, and start-ups will be offered:

  • Networking with potential investors or research institutions interested in creating partnerships around your innovative ideas

  • Exposure and visibility to international donors, including research-innovation funders and private investors from Africa and Europe

  • Access to additional information and services such as LEAP4FNNSSA Newsletter and the Agora Platform

  • Time slot in the West Africa Workshop: Dialogue for Action and Brokerage – Fostering Knowledge, Communication & Innovation Hubs, virtual meeting on 28th-29th October 2020

  • Promotion of the project to the international research community and potential funders by displaying pitch presentations and videos on the LEAP4FNSSA website

  • Pitching sessions will be live streamed through LEAP4FNSSA website in a special section

  • Invitation to further LEAP4FNSSA workshops with funders, investors and potential business partners

What are our selection criteria?

An international and interdisciplinary commission of experts on research and innovation will select the idea carriers by following criteria:

  • Thematic relevance to one of the following topics: 1) Innovation and digitalisation in agriculture, 2) Short value chains, 3) Agroecological transitions of food systems.

  • Innovative ideas with the ability to create new business and market opportunities in the EU-AU region and points-of-interest to the investors.

  • Capacity to deliver new products or services – an important criterion will be the ability to make a difference in the region from the current state of affairs.

  • Organisation and Team – All applicants will be screened; preference will be given to youths and early-career researchers coming from Western African Countries.

LEAP4FNSSA brokerage 2020 - How to apply

Please apply by 15th August 2020 filling this application form (Expression of interest) and sending it to brokerage@leap4fnssa.eu 

Applicants will be informed by mid-September if they have been selected for presentation at the West Africa workshop to be held on 28-29 October 2020.

Selected idea-carriers will be asked to produce a PowerPoint presentation or short pitch video (2-3 minutes) by the end of September. The pitch presentation or video should address the problem and innovative solution to these products will be ensured on LEAP4FNSSA website and social media channels.

Please contact brokerage@leap4fnssa.eu for any further information you may need.

[UPDATE: August 16, 2020]
The call is closed: thanks everyone for the participation. We’ll keep you updated about the next evaluation.


Photos by:  CIAT | Flickrjbdodane | Flickr |
Data by: World Bank | The World Counts |
Icons by By SBTS, IN (smart farm) – Felipe Flórez (agroecology) – Martin Markstein (food supply chain) from the Noun Project |