CGIAR Food Systems Accelerator Programme 2023

CGIAR Food Systems Accelerator Programme 2023

CGIAR Food Systems Accelerator Programme 2023


Are you an agribusiness with a climate-smart innovation that tackles food insecurity and increases resilience in the East and Southern Africa region? Apply to our program to receive tailor-made support as well as access to finance to bring your innovations to scale.

Climate change continues to pose a real threat to food production in East and Southern Africa (ESA). Lack of resilience to climate change, fragmented agri-food value chains, a growing population, food shortages and rising food prices are further undermining food and nutrition security.

The CGIAR Food Systems Accelerator aims to support agribusinesses in scaling their climate smart innovations. These innovations are aimed at agrifood actors to solve pressing problems in the value chains and contribute to stronger and more sustainable food systems.

Target sectors:

  • SDG 8 and 10: The CGIAR Food Systems Accelerator builds and sustains the foundations for economic growth in the agriculture and food sectors
  • SDG 17: Partnerships supported by the Programme
  • SDG 2 and 3:integrate a food and nutrition security agenda with direct outreach to consumers
  • SDG 1 and 5: laying the foundations for viable local economies and equitable agrifood value chains
  • SDG 5 and SDG 8: promote job creation, skilled and decent work, and inclusive (women and youth) economic growth
  • SDG 13: The Programme provides SMEs with access to science-based research and innovation which enhances their capacities to make smallholder farmers, local communities, and partners resilient to the effects of climate change

Food Systems Accelerator



Closes December 22, 2022
Organizer CGIAR
Website Visit website
Targets Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia
Sectors Agribusiness, Agritech, Environmental services, Food production, Smart city solutions
SDG (10)
1. No Poverty, 2. Zero Hunger, 3. Good Health and Well-being, 5. Gender Equality, 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth, 10. Reduced Inequality, 11. Sustainable Cities and Communities, 12. Responsible Consumption and Production, 13. Climate Action, 17. Partnerships to achieve the Goal


The overall objective of the CGIAR Food Systems Accelerator Program is to:

  • Scale climate-smart food system innovations through strategic support of commercially viable and inclusive climate-smart agribusinesses
  • Develop a pipeline of inclusive climate-smart agribusinesses in East and Southern Africa
  • Support inclusive climate-smart agribusinesses through a 6-month programme that provides investment readiness and business development, climate-smart agriculture (CSA) and impact measurement and management (IMM) technical assistance, coaching and mentoring.
  • Access to finance through de-risking grants to scale CSA innovations and business models and matchmaking with private investors for follow-on capital.

What are we looking for in participants?

Priority innovation themes

We are looking for user-centric innovation cases that will lead to broad and positive impacts in food security through the increase in productivity, climate change resilience and adaptation and mitigation of the negative effects on agriculture. We support innovations that are climate-smart and that have a strong case for commercial sustainability. Innovations can be digital, technical, financial, products, services, processes, or business models.

These can be existing or planned innovations in either of the four target countries as well as under one of the four priority innovation themes. Supported innovations should be designed to benefit smallholder farmers and associations in East and Southern Africa. Attention will be given to business models that promote agro-processing and provide aggregation services. Women and youth owned companies are encouraged to apply. 

The four priority innovation themes are as follows:

Mechanization and irrigation

Mechanization is the process of using agricultural machinery to mechanize the work of agriculture greatly increasing farm worker productivity. Mechanization encompasses production, distribution, and utilization of a variety of tools, machinery, and equipment for the development of agricultural land, planting, maintaining crop and livestock harvest and post-harvest operations. Irrigation is the system of applying water to crops and field by aid of machinery like pumps, sprinklers, drip hoses and any other mechanical means. Mechanized irrigation directly increases the water use efficiency leading to many indirect benefits in the climate action area. Some examples of innovations under this theme include, solar powered irrigation, supplementary irrigation, grading and sorting equipment, storage, and processing equipment.

Conservation agriculture

Conservation agriculture is a farming approach that promotes minimum soil disturbance, maintenance of permanent soil covers and diversification of farmed plant species. It enhances natural biological processes and contributes to increased water and nutrient use efficiency reducing the need for chemical fertilizers and the disturbance they create in the environment. The approach is based on practical application of three interlinked principles: (i) continuous none or minimum mechanical soil disturbance (no-till seeding or planting and no-till weeding), (ii) permanent maintenance of soil mulch cover (crop biomass, stubble and cover crops), and (iii) diversification of cropping systems (crop rotations and/or sequences and/or associations involving annuals and perennials, including legumes for natural nitrogen fixation), along with other complementary good agricultural production and management practices. Some examples of innovations under this theme include, agriculture-based sustainable intensification management practices, Integrated Soil Fertility Management (ISFM) and Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

Nutrition-sensitive climate smart agriculture

Nutrition-sensitive climate smart agriculture are solutions decreasing the trade-offs between agricultural productivity, climate change, and human and animal nutrition. They make farming more climate sensitive and produce more nutritious food while maintaining productivity. Some examples of innovations under this theme include products such as legumes, cassava, livestock, dairy, oil seeds, horticulture (fresh produce and vegetables), and other staples.

Agricultural Risk Management (ARM)

Agricultural Risk Management (ARM) is the identification, evaluation, and prioritization of risks in agricultural activities including coordinated and economic application to minimize, monitor and control the probability or impact of unfortunate events and maximize opportunities. They make farming more predictable and increase the resilience of farmers. Some examples of innovations under this theme include advisory services, market linkage services, digitizing the value chain and financial products (microinsurance, savings, lending, and credit guarantees).

Business stage

  • Early Stage: companies that have begun to market their products. Will require funding to market products. Funded by venture capitalists and growth equity investors (private equity)
  • Growth Stage: companies with increased demand for products, that require funding to increase production and are looking for debt or equity investors (venture capital and private equity).
  • Expansion Stage: companies looking to gain market share locally and/or for export funded by debt and equity (private and public equity).

What we offer selected participants

  • Provision of Climate-smart agriculture Technical Assistance: through this programme each agribusiness will collaborate with CGIAR scientists and experts to receive coordinated and specialised evidence-based TA support that encourages adoption and strengthens their CSA practices, addresses concrete ecosystem challenges, and improves their bankability. Agribusinesses will also have access to research and data.
  • Provision of Impact Measurement and Management (IMM) Technical Assistance: Agribusiness teams selected to this Programme will receive training on how to effectively measure and manage impact, use their data to improve business performance, identify areas where value can be created and achieve their desired result in contributing towards positive environmental and social impact. This training will be provided by CGIAR network of scientists and experts.
  • Provision of Investment Readiness Technical Assistance: Each agribusiness in this programme will collaborate with IFDC-2SCALE and its network to receive investment readiness and business development support to help secure financing from the private sector.
  • De-risking Grant: Following the conclusion of the accelerator program and Pitch Day, four companies will receive USD 20,000 each according to their business scaling plans.
  • Access to investors and corporate partners to attract follow-on funding and potential business opportunities.

Eligibility criteria

  • The business should be officially registered and compliant with regulatory authorities. Please provide the following:
    • A Certificate of Incorporation for a Limited Company or Partnership Deed for a Partnership Business.
    • 2 years audited accounts.
    • Contact details of company’s references.
    • Team composition.
    • Curriculum Vitae for management team.
    • Tax Compliance Certificate.
  • A clear inclusive strategy for smallholder farmers, women, and youth within the business model in at least one of the following dimensions: ownership, management team, workforce and policies, supply chain and customers.
  • Applicants must be a for-profit company and demonstrate commercial viability and either be profitable or on the path to profitability. NGOs, corporate companies, and consultants will not be considered.
  • Operating in the following countries: Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia.

Program dates

  • Application period dates; start 23rd November 2022 and deadline 22nd December 2022
  • First shortlist announcement – 13 January 2022
  • Second shortlist announcement – 27 January 2023
  • Final shortlist announcement of cohort -– 10 February 2023
  • 6-month technical assistance – 1 March 2023 – 31 August 2023
  • Pitch Day and announcement of grant recipients – 15 October 2023

Organization profiles


CGIAR is the largest agriculture innovation network with a research portfolio of US $900 million, over 3000 partners and clients in 70+ countries focused on enhancing food and nutrition security through a science-based approach to emerging development issues. The main scientific areas of focus include supporting food systems transformation, driving sustainable land and water use, supporting resilient agri-food systems, and creating genetic innovation through crop breeding and seed systems for adaptation of food and farms to meet goals for poverty reduction, gender equality, nutrition, climate, and the environment. Its research is carried out by 13 CGIAR Centers/Alliances in close collaboration with hundreds of partners, including national and regional research institutes, civil society organizations, academia, development organisations, and the private sector.

Ukama Ustawi

The CGIAR Food Systems Accelerator is a work package in the Ukama Ustawi regional initiative of the CGIAR. The Initiative aims to support climate-resilient agriculture and livelihoods in 12 countries in East and Southern Africa by helping millions of smallholders intensify, diversify, and reduce the risks in maize-based farming through improved extension services, small and medium enterprise development, supporting governance frameworks and increased investment with a gender and social inclusion lens


The 2SCALE (  is one of the most of IFDC ( influential incubator and accelerator program of inclusive agribusiness in sub-Saharan Africa. The program support partnerships and business models with significant potential to attract and employ the youth, to engage and empower women, and to improve food and nutrition security (at the consumer end of the value chain), also the program focus on replication of successful business models and on institutional factors that drive or constrain systematic and transformative change, to accelerate and scale inclusive agribusiness.


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