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World Bank Funding for Digital Agriculture Startup Companies

By Wayan Vota on December 20, 2022

world bank digital agriculture funding

Digital agriculture is important to the World Bank because it can help improve food security by making the food system more efficient, sustainable and equitable. Digital technologies can help reduce costs, increase productivity, enhance quality, optimize resource use, mitigate risks, empower farmers and consumers, and facilitate market access.

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Agritech entrepreneurs can engage with the World Bank to secure funding for technology startup companies focused on food security. The World Bank invests in innovation challenges and initiatives to identify disruptive agricultural technologies for African countries. It offers mentorship, networking and funding opportunities for selected startups.

5 Ways Startup Companies Can Engage the World Bank

Here are five ways the World Bank engages with entrepreneurs to fund technology startup companies focused on food security:

  1. Applying for funding opportunities from the World Bank or its partners that support innovation and entrepreneurship in digital agriculture. The Innovation Challenge Fund provides grants for startups that offer digital solutions for smallholder farmers in Africa. The fund has two rounds of grants per year, with a maximum amount of $250,000 per project. One investment was a web platform that uses satellite imagery and machine learning to monitor droughts in Ethiopia. The Disruptive Agricultural Technology Challenge awards prizes for startups that use disruptive technologies to address food security challenges in Kenya.
  2. Participating in workshops that showcase innovative ideas or solutions for digital agriculture. The Digital Agriculture Innovation Day is an annual event that brings together entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers and experts to discuss and demonstrate how digital technologies can transform agriculture. The AgriTech Bootcamp is a training program that helps entrepreneurs develop their business models and pitch their solutions to potential investors.
  3. Joining networks that connect entrepreneurs with mentors, investors, customers and peers in digital agriculture. The World Bank Group Innovation Labs is a network of hubs that provide support services for innovators across different sectors including agriculture. The Africa AgriTech Accelerator Program is a platform that connects startups with mentors, corporates, investors and other stakeholders in agri-tech across Africa.
  4. Leveraging resources that provide guidance, training or data for developing and scaling digital agriculture solutions. Digital Agriculture Maturity Model is a self-assessment tool that helps entrepreneurs measure their progress and identify gaps in their digital agriculture solutions. World Bank Open Data is a web-based platform that provides free access to various datasets on agriculture and food security.
  5. Partnering with the World Bank or its implementing partners on co-designing, testing or deploying digital agriculture solutions that address specific challenges or opportunities in food security. For example, the World Bank has partnered with Hello Tractor to provide smart tractor services to smallholder farmers in Nigeria using an app-based platform. The World Bank has also partnered with FarmDrive to provide credit scoring services for smallholder farmers using mobile phones and big data analytics in Kenya.

World Bank Funding for AgriTech Startup Companies

Here are five ways the World Bank can fund technology startup companies focused on food security:

  • The World Bank can provide grants through its Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), which supports national and regional strategic plans for agriculture and food security in poor countries.
  • The World Bank can also provide loans or credits through its International Development Association (IDA), which offers concessional financing for low-income countries. For example, in June 2021, the World Bank approved two IDA grants totaling $116 million to help South Sudan address acute food insecurity and desert locust crisis.
  • The World Bank can leverage its partnerships with other organizations, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Food Programme (WFP) and others, to co-finance projects that promote food security. In February 2023, the World Bank joined these organizations to call for urgent action to address the global food and nutrition security crisis.
  • The World bank can support innovation and entrepreneurship in food security through its various initiatives, such as Innovation Labs, AgriTech Challenge, Disruptive Agricultural Technologies Platform and others. These initiatives aim to foster new solutions and business models that can improve agricultural productivity, resilience and sustainability.
  • The World Bank can mobilize private sector investment in food security through its International Finance Corporation (IFC), which provides financing and advisory services to private enterprises in developing countries. The IFC has invested in several agribusiness companies that use technology to enhance food security, such as Twiga Foods in Kenya, which connects farmers with urban retailers through a digital platform.

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of his employer, any of its entities, or any ICTWorks sponsor.
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