Restoring degraded land has the potential to become big business. Entrepreneurs are finding new ways to make money from sustainably managed forests and farms. Some are responding to the market, restoring land to generate new products and services, or to differentiate their offerings from the competition. Others are responding to government incentives. These enterprises are breathing new life into unproductive land.
To accelerate these efforts, the World Resources Institute and Fledge partnered in 2018 to create The Land Accelerator, the world’s first start-up accelerator for restoration entrepreneurs. We received 245 applications for 12 spots. To learn more, check out this 4-minute video on last year’s Land Accelerator as well as this blog on the growing restoration business movement in Africa.
Here are some of the highlights from the 2018 program:
The entrepreneurs have become more confident in their ability to engage investors, negotiate contracts and raise capital. Two businesses are in advanced discussions with investors that they met through the Accelerator and others are in earlier stages of discussion.
One business won a $10,000 cash prize based on its improved investment pitch.
One business has transformed how it works with hundreds of farmers.
One business pivoted to a new focus. It has since secured two large orders.
We are excited for the second Land Accelerator in 2019. This will be an intense 6-day program to train and mentor entrepreneurs from select African countries, including both business planning and technical lectures. The event will end with a Demo Day where participants will pitch to prospective investors.
September 7-12, 2019
The application deadline is Monday, July 8. We are seeking entrepreneurs who are working to improve the ecological function of a degraded landscape. This may include working on climate-smart agriculture, sustainable forestry, reforestation, and non-timber forest products. The Accelerator contributes to African countries’ efforts to bring 100 million hectares of land into restoration through the African Forest Landscapes Restoration (AFR100) and the Bonn Challenge.
Travel costs will be covered for applicants from Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Niger, and Cameroon. Companies from elsewhere in Africa are also welcome to apply. There is no fee for the program thanks to the generous support of the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).