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GIZ-SAIS Investment Readiness Programme 2020

Updated on May 06, 2020 774 views
GIZ-SAIS Investment Readiness Programme 2020


‘Scaling Digital Agriculture Innovations through Start-ups’ (SAIS) is a project implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Our goal is to support African start-ups in scaling their digital innovations; these innovations should enable users in the agriculture or food sector to increase their income.

Who can apply for the 2020 Investment Readiness Programme?

SAIS is looking for innovative start-ups that are about to scale rapidly and apply digital solutions to the agriculture and food sector which enable their users to improve their income. In addition, digital products or services that help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 are a plus and will be taken into special consideration.

What we offer

Selected start-ups will participate in a nine-month Investment Readiness Programme fully funded by
GIZ-SAIS. The program includes:

  • Weekly advisory and coaching sessions held virtually during which strategies and measures for rapid growth, product improvement, business and management operations, innovation and scaling are developed and implemented with the start-ups;
  • Access to additional service providers to optimize certain segments of the start-up (e.g. legal, marketing, coding, etc.);
  • Integration of the selected start-ups in one of our partner hubs in their home country in order to facilitate their visibility and contact with relevant actors in the local start-up scene;
  • A virtual kick-off event to start the program, back to back with the SA Innovation Summit 2020, followed by a mid-term check-in early 2021;
  • A demo-day with investors and business partners will conclude the program in July 2021. Depending on the COVID-19 situation over the course of 2020/21, the mid-term check and the demo-day will possibly have to be shifted into online events.

Throughout the duration of the program, the SAIS team will facilitate contacts and interactions with potential investors and business partners.

What are our selection criteria?

Mandatory criteria

  • Legal representation
    • The start-up must be registered and operating in at least one African country.
  • Team
    • The start-up must have a team of at least two people.
    • The management team must be highly motivated and work at the business ideally full-time time.
  • Digital product
    • The start-up needs to have a viable digital product with a clear positive impact on its users’ income.
    • The product must be aligned with one of the digital technologies listed below.
  • Access to market and traction
    • The start-up must have launched its digital product at least six months ago and provide evidence of good traction as well as existing processes that need to be performed.

Competitive criteria

  • Business model
    • The start-up should have an easily understandable and very convincing business model (clear problem statement, clear digital solution, clear customer segment and clear revenues stream).
  • Customer data
    • The start-up should have access to customer data via its digital solution (number of customers and gender); if this is not the case, building customer databases will be one of the first development measures if the start-up is selected for the IRP.
  • Level of innovation
    • Innovative and disruptive solutions will be regarded as an asset.  Solutions that help mitigate the impact of Covid-19 will be taken into special consideration

Which innovations are we looking for?

You can apply if your innovation is listed in one of the following categories or technologies


  • Digital storytelling
  • eLearning
  • Precision farming
  • Access to market
  • Access to finance
  • Digital payment
  • Supply chain management
  • Food delivery
  • Animal and crops health
  • Soil fertility
  • Logistic and transport
  • e-commerce
  • Gamification
  • Big data
  • Data analysis
  • Open data
  • Data protection
  • Data security
  • Cybersecurity
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Building digital expertise for
    farmers (eSkills, eLiteracy)



  • Internet of things
  • Big data analysis systems
  • SMS-services
  • Virtual /augmented reality
  • 3D-printer
  • Robotics
  • Apps programs
  • Database
  • Blockchain
  • Monitoring
  • Social media
  • Web platforms
  • GIS (Geo-Information Systems)/Mapping
  • Artificial intelligence (AI)
  • Controlling systems
  • Digital learning software
    (eLearning system, MOOC
    platforms, open educational resources)
  • Precision farming (chipcards,
    sensors, drones/ remote sensing system)
  • Information-management
    systems (IMS)

What do we expect from the start-ups taking part in our programme?

  • The willingness and ability of the leadership team (1 person) to take part in all training measures, including physical presence during the kick-off, mid-term check-in and link-up events as well as virtual events.
  • Leadership and team members exhibit willingness to agree on individual milestones as well as serious ambition to achieve them within the timeframe of the GIZ-SAIS Investment Readiness Programme.
  • The willingness and technical ability to regularly communicate and share business information with GIZ-SAIS.

The COVID-19 pandemic is the black swan of 2020. It has major impacts on start-up development and venture capital investments in Africa, as well as globally. At the same time, in times of social or physical distancing it is also a window of opportunity to leapfrog digital business models and solutions for various economic sectors, including the agriculture and food sector. GIZ-SAIS will have a special consideration for African start-ups that develop digital innovations for the agriculture and food sector that also manage the risks and harness the opportunities of the current crisis.

How to apply for and take part in the programme

Online application

Please apply online by June 30, 2020 via the application form provided and upload a short pitch video (max. 2 minutes) via an unlisted (i.e. hidden to the public) YouTube link. The video should clearly convey the problem you are addressing and how your digital product helps to solve it. Please make sure that your pitch video follows the following structure: Problem you are tackling, digital technology you are applying, current number of customers and examples of positive impact on their income, outlook for growth and expectation from the SAIS programme. Please provide all requested information in order to ensure your inclusion in the selection process.

Virtual pitch

Based on the mandatory and competitive selection criteria presented above, GIZ-SAIS will pre-select convincing start-ups that will be invited to a virtual pitch:

  • The virtual pitch event will be held in July 2020, during calendar week 31 (July 27- 31, 2020).
  • Invitations to the pitch event including your time slot will be sent out by July 20, 2020.

Kick-off event

The most promising startups selected in the wake of the virtual pitch will be invited to the virtual kick-off event of the GIZ-SAIS Investment Readiness Programme, which will be held from 30 September to 2 October 2020. This year, the kick-off will be held back to back with the SA Innovation Summit. Please make sure that you are available at that time.

Program dates

 June 30 - September 30, 2020

Read More on the GIZ Website

Application Link

Staff Writer

This article was written and edited by a staff writer.

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