Accelerating Women Entrepreneurs Prize

At theGlobal Entrepreneurship Summit, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) announced that Feed the Future would launch a new competition for women-led enterprises to access investment advice, business analysis, and other services to take their agribusinesses to the next level. To support this initiative, Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation is issuing a competitive request for applications (RFA) from women owned or operated agribusinesses in sub-Saharan African countries where USAID operates (see country list here). Businesses with women in leadership positions including founder, CEO, president, or managing director that meet the eligibility criteria below may apply to receive technical assistance that will help prepare businesses to access external investment.

This prize will help woman-led enterprises access capital to scale improved agricultural products and services in smallholder markets. The selected finalists will receive investment readiness consulting services and investor matchmaking support.

This RFA will identify woman-owned or women-operated, for-profit businesses that match the evaluation criteria set forth in Section IV. Up to two companies will be awarded a package of technical assistance valued at $50,000.

The technical assistance package will include:
An assessment of investment readiness, including a review of the enterprise’s corporate systems and a summary of key challenges and overall readiness for external investment
Co-development of a five-year business strategy and financial projections, preparation of an investor overview document and outreach materials including a pitch deck, a landscape review of potential investors, and initial introductions to principals of the funds

Applicants must be a woman-owned or operated (i.e. women in leadership positions including founder, CEO, president, or managing director) commercial enterprise that is selling products or services in smallholder agricultural or livestock markets. Companies must be headquartered in a sub-Saharan African country where USAID currently operates (see country list here). Companies should have viable business models and incorporate and ultimately benefit smallholder farmers in at least one the following areas:
  1. Increased access to agricultural inputs (e.g. seeds, fertilizer, crop protection products, equipment), technology (e.g. information and communication technology, cold chain logistics, mechanization, irrigation), financial and/or risk management services, and/or better agricultural practices.
  2. Expansion of market access through improved services by offtakers or processors.

Applicants must demonstrate that the company is in a position to take on external investment and sustainably scale significant development impacts for smallholder farmers, such as productivity increases, increased income, reduction in postharvest losses, and/or expanded market access.

All applicant businesses must be legally recognized entities in the country of operation and able to provide documented proof of legal status. Applicant businesses should have been in operation for more than one year with demonstrated potential for commercial viability and seeking external investment. Businesses currently or previously supported by Partnering for Innovation will not be considered.
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