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Bill & Melinda Gates FDN Calls for Solutions to Smart Farming Innovations for Small-Scale Producers, Win $1.5M

Bill and Melinda Gates foundation
Image source: Bill and Belinda Gates Foundation. Photo by Frederic Courbet

The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation through the Grand Global Challenges calls for applications for Smart Farming Innovations for Small-Scale Producers.

This challenge by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation seeks smart farming solutions leveraging digital tech innovations with the potential to drive positive impact for small scale producer entrepreneurs. The solution need to be delivered via bundled farmer services and enabled by scalable digital and data platforms (Figure 1).

Solutions by applicants should be addressing challenges smallscale crop and livestock producers are faced with, in areas such as farm management decision support, agricultural advisory, finance, insurance, linkages, market access and input supply.

The Grand Global Challenge is looking out for solutions with human-centered design to clear the barriers always preventing Small Scale Producers from improving profitability, income and productivity. You then must propose Smart Farming solutions that can adequately help elevate smallscale production entrepreneurs.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Global Challenge will address,

  1. The issues of low productivity due to lack of access to information and services, weather variability, pest and disease outbreaks and climate change
  2. The problem of access to tailored financial and insurance products
  3. Finally, lack of access to and choice of market and offtake options.
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Your proposed solutions have to consider barriers to the adoption of digital farming services, like low language and digital literacy, the high relative cost of services and devices and, importantly, gender gaps and other potential downsides of digital solutions.

This is a challenge open to agritech entrepreneurs in Africa and Asia. And for Africans, these are the countries involved, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique and Nigeria.

Bill and Melinda Gates foundation
Figure 1. Bill and Melinda Gates foundation challenge goals

The Grand Global challenge has two prizes on offer – Seed Grants and Scale-Up Grants – each with their own requirements. If you want to apply, you must do so for only one of the grant types.

Seed Grants – $250,000

There is an award of up to US$250,000 to be implemented up to 12 months. This seed grant goes for proposals with Smart Farming solutions demonstrating potential in meeting provisions fit-for-purpose solutions for SSP enterprises who are seeking to sell a portion of production to markets. Also, solutions enabled by strong digital and data technology platforms and services. Find more of the requirements here.

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Scale-Up Grants – $1,500,000

Funds up to $1,500,000 to be implemented up to 24 months. These are for proposals with demonstrated ability and sufficient evidence to have positive impact. In order to qualify, your proposal must satisfy conditions set for the Seed Grants, and must also meet the following: leverage digital technology innovations with demonstrated readiness to scale and proven ability to bundle with other services; Meet all criteria regarding technology innovations, scalable platforms, and sustainable bundled service delivery models. See the rest of the requirements.

Deadline for application is 25th February, 2021. If you are up for the Bill and Melinda Gates Grand Global Challenge, Apply HERE

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Opportunities

MEST Africa: Applications Opens to Aspiring Tech Entrepreneurs in Class of 2022

MEST Africa

MEST Africa calls for applications into the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology Training Program Class of 2022. This is a twelve (12) month graduate-level training program for aspiring tech startup founders on the continent of Africa. Deadline is the 29th of April, 2021.

Since the launch of MEST Africa in 2008, the company has invested over $22 million in training over 350 individual entrepreneurs and over 60 of them have received investments across Africa.

The MEST Africa entrepreneurs have developed solutions addressing local, regional and global markets, received follow-on funding from global investors and gotten into top accelerator programs such as Y-combinator, 500 startups and TechStars.

The MEST Africa Training Program is the leading entrepreneurial training program in Africa in business, communications and software development which includes extensive hands-on project work for trainees, culminating in a final pitch and the chance to receive seed investment and grow their businesses.

The successful world-class MEST Training Program annually runs with the help of an internationally recognized faculty. Its teaching fellows come from some of the best universities around the globe with the likes of Oxford, Stanford, Harvard and more.

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MEST Africa

They as well offer selected entrepreneurs-in-training (EITs) the opportunity to be mentored by real-life Entrepreneurs, CEOs and other executives from all over the world. Some of its guest lecturers are executives of Uber, Facebook, Safaricom, Samsung, Interswitch, etc.

This year, MEST Africa says it is welcoming entrepreneurs living in Ghana and Nigeria mainly because of the way organizations operate around the world today due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, causing travel restrictions and moving many workplaces to adopt digital solutions.

Who qualifies to to be accepted into the MEST Africa Training Program?

  • A degree from a top university or Technical College or equivalent experience with at least two (2) years corporate and startup experience (preferred)
  • Deep skills in either communications, business or software development (from the onset or acquired during the Pre-Learning stage)
  • Young persons crazy about tech and entrepreneurship, and how to use technology to achieve business results
  • Should be ready to commit to a full residential program for a whole year
  • Disciplined, motivated self-starter who can work and deliver on assignments and projects – demonstrate this by completing the required Pre-Learning courses and MEST’s rigorous recruitment process
  • An entrepreneurial spirit and strong desire to start a company
  • Ability to communicate candidly and persuasively
  • Ability to work well in teams, proven academic or professional excellence
  • Demonstrated leadership abilities
  • Confident and independent thinking
  • Excellent people skills
SEE ALSO |  Applications Open for Aspiring Entrepreneurs Program 2021. Pitch for Grants & Seed Funding

The MEST Africa Training Program commences on the 1st of September and ends on the 31 of August, 2022. All interested persons should find out more about the Curriculum Structure. You will complete their pre-learning courses, take an aptitude test and the Training Program Application form. This is a fully sponsored training for all qualified entrepreneurs.

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