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Africa's Land Restoration Goes Entrepreneurship In Nature

LILONGWE, Malawi, September 18, 2021 (AEJ) - The Land Accelerator Africa an ecosystem restoration initiative led by World Resources Institute (WRI), African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) and Fledge, has now worked with 104 entrepreneurs from 34 countries in total, including 78 local businesses from 27 countries for its third cohort in 2021.

African nations pledged to begin restoring more than 100 million hectares of degraded landscape by 2030 through AFR100 Initiative. Hundreds of local innovators are now pioneering project and business models that show that land restoration can contribute to a prosperous, net-zero-emissions of greenhouse gases for a better future for Africa.

The initiative is an accelerator on training and mentorship program for restoration entrepreneurs that aims to build pitching, communication, financial and supply chain management skills, provide networking opportunities and boost companies’ investment readiness.

Each graduate is a recipient of US$5,000 innovation grant to help them scale up their businesses. Selected groups of 15 leading entrepreneurs are benefiting from customized support to improve their business models and understand the realities of funding landscape from a team of expert mentors.

The program is culminating in impact days, on October 26 and 27, 2021, the graduates will pitch investors. But they need support, that is why funders are looking to finance the top 100 non-profit community organizations and for-profit businesses that are restoring land by planting and growing trees.

Early-stage for-profit businesses or non-profits working in any of the 31 AFR100 member countries can apply for $50,000-150,000 USD. Established organizations can apply for $250,000-$500,000 USD.

After a two-stage application process through TerraMatch, the initial cohort of the top 100 will be announced in November 2021. Expressions of interest for the first round are open until September 23. Writing on her page Malawian Afshan Omar of Food Systems Game Changer Lab noted that knowing how multifaceted the giant bamboo is – it is wise and proper to integrate it within local indigenous species. She added it is one species in ecosystem restoration that can be used for various purposes at both household and landscape level.

“From a design perspective - along riverbanks in between other species like bananas and elephant grass (very fibrous roots that hold the soil), windbreaks, live fences, buffers etc. They end using it for fuelwood alternative, construction materials, plastic alternative, and the list is endless,” Omar who teaches pregnant women in permaculture practice at Area 25 Health Centre in Lilongwe explained.

Hundreds of entrepreneurs in Africa are tackling these landscape related challenges through locally led, market- driven green businesses that protect and restore farmland and forests. Restoration businesses balance profitability with social and environmental impact by sequestering carbon, combating desertification and helping communities adapt to the effects of climate change, while securing local food systems and creating jobs in struggling rural landscapes. Investing in them is key to creating a more sustainable future.

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Charles Mkoka
Charles Mkoka is one of AEJ News Editorial Production Crew

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