The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and Impact Hub Kigali (IHK), with the support of USAID Bureau of Humanitarian Affairs (BHA) and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, are looking for solutions in Rwanda that address food insecurity through strengthening food systems. The IGNITE Food Systems Challenge supports the scaling of innovative Startups, MSMEs, and cooperatives with commercially viable solutions to address gaps in the food system. Each selected venture will receive up to $30,000 in grant funding & 4 months curated technical support to address business gaps.

Applications closed on 02 April 2023.

What The Program Offers

Selected ventures will have access to the following benefits that will support them to implement their locally-driven solutions that strengthen food systems.

  • Funding: Up to $30,000 in equity-free funding per venture
  • Acceleration support: 4 months of curated technical support to strengthen your skills and address business gaps. Receive a tailored curriculum and connect directly with  experts and mentors
  • Networking and exposure: connections to potential investors and leverage WFP’s strong network of public, private, and government partners

Who Are We Looking For?

We are looking for Startups, Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), and cooperatives with commercially viable solutions to strengthen the food system.

While all food systems solutions are invited to apply, solutions that address the following areas are particularly encouraged to apply:

  • Gender Transformative Food Systems: Food systems solutions that aim to empower women, through employment opportunities or business impact.
  • Circular Economy Solutions: Solutions that help reduce the environmental impact of the food system, promote greater resource efficiency, and support a more sustainable and resilient food system.

Eligibility Criteria

  • The entity must possess a valid registration/certificate of incorporation for operating in Rwanda and at least 1 year of operation
  • Have proof of a revenue-generating business (total turnover in the case of cooperatives) of at least the equivalent of USD 5,000 for the full year of 2022
  • Be a team of at least three full-time members dedicated to the MSME/cooperative, including the founding team
  • At least 50% of the founding and/or senior management team must be from Rwanda/East Africa
  • The entity must have existing key operations in Rwanda

Businesses and co-operatives that are women-led and/or have taken demonstrated action towards promoting women in their supply chain are especially encouraged to apply.

Evaluation Criteria

The evaluation process for the IGNITE Food Systems Challenge (Second Edition) will be based on the following criteria:

  • Level of innovation: The solution solves a food challenge in an innovative way
  • Impact: the solution has a strong impact on strengthening food systems
  • Financial sustainability: the venture has a clear business model and is financially sustainable
  • Level of traction: the venture shows traction and demonstrates impact already
  • Scalability: the venture has a strong potential to be scaled up
  • Team: The team combines the right experience and demonstrates commitment to scale the solution

Applications are reviewed by WFP, our implementing partners, and external experts. While we welcome applicants working across all stages of the food systems, preference will be given to those who already show traction and market validation to support their growth.

Program Timeline

Insights from the 1st edition

The first edition of the program supported 6 ventures to scale their innovative solutions over a period of 6 months with tailored technical support and financial support of 50,000USD to each venture. This support led to massively increased production capacities, enhanced and streamlined operation efficiency, acquisition of new customers and customer segments, multiplied revenues, all of which are cementing the ventures’ standing and contribution to the strengthening of the wider food systems.

Frequently Asked Questions

Looking for more information or have a question about the IGNITE Food Systems challenge? Please visit our FAQ page for answers to commonly asked questions. If you still have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us directly at [email protected].

IGNITE Food Systems Challenge Pitch Day

IGNITE Food Systems Docuseries – Ep.3

IGNITE Food Systems Docuseries – Ep.1

IGNITE Food Systems Challenge Demo Day

IGNITE Food Systems Docuseries – Ep.2