MENA Regional Innovation Hub

Water and Energy for Food Grand Challenge (WE4F) is coming to the Middle East and North Africa to promote local, sustainable, and innovative solutions for challenges in the water, energy, and agriculture sectors.

The WE4F Middle East and North Africa Regional Innovation Hub (MENA RIH) proudly launches its first recruitment period for innovators with proven solutions for the region’s most pressing water, energy and food security challenges. The first call for innovators will occur from November 3rd to December 15th, 2020. Afterwards, up to 25 mid- to later-stage enterprises with a proven track record, an existing customer base and recurring sales will be invited to receive a broad portfolio of support mechanisms. In addition to demonstrating solid operational practices, innovators must be based in one or several of the following countries and territories: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, The Palestinian Territories, Tunisia, Sudan, and Yemen.

The application criteria include sales, operational standards, sound management, transparency, and accountability. WE4F also emphasizes the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) when assessing the innovators’ eligibility. The MENA RIH will validate candidates’ commitment to sustainable agricultural food value chains, gender balance, base of the pyramid integration, the improvement of energy and water efficiency, and promotion of climate resilient agriculture with strict environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria. Through this competition, WE4F anticipates disbursing $4.5 million USD in award funding (Technical Assistance and Grants) for MENA, coupled with access to a regional and global network of key stakeholders.  

Aside from catering directly to innovators through its support programs and extensive network, the MENA RIH supports WE4F’s goal to foster advantageous conditions for innovators, investors, and partners to ease pressures applied on businesses by various social, political, and economic challenges in the MENA region. In addition, further challenges related to operational scaling and sustainable business development will be jointly addressed through institutional and financial partnerships.  

The MENA RIH is ran by a team of locally-based implementing organizations; Berytech cewas, Chemonics Egypt and IWMI and with the support of experienced and dedicated governmental founding partners. The MENA RIH will offer a variety of programs and interventions for innovators, dedicated investors and partners, regional governmental institutions, international organizations, and the interested public.

The MENA RIH is firmly embedded in the global WE4F framework and joins a range of other Regional Innovation Hubs hailing from West Africa, East Africa and South and South East Asia. As a cornerstone to its work, the MENA RIH aims to develop relationships with potential partners, investors, and innovators to explore opportunities for collaboration. Examples of such opportunities include: technical assistance and investment options; de-risking of investments through grants, soft loans, and other tailored financial instruments; and the joint creation of a supportive enabling environment.

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WE4F is a joint international initiative of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Foreign Ministry of the Netherlands, Sweden through the Swedish International DevelopmentCooperation Agency (Sida), and the U.S.Agency for International Development (USAID).

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