Green Pioneer Accelerator


Is your business working on an innovative solution in the “Green Economy”? Are you trying to raise capital to scale your business? If yes, consider joining the 2015 Green Pioneer Acceleration Program.

We are looking for entrepreneur working on innovative products in rapidly expanding environmental sectors such as sustainable agriculture, (including apiculture and aquaculture), ecotourism, sustainable forestry, non-timber forest products, and renewable energy. An equal emphasis is given to opportunities in food waste, ecological housing, recycling or other green innovations. Applicants should benefit local communities who are an integral part of protecting the earth’s natural capital. This program is a joint initiative of Hivos, VC4Africa, Impact Amplifier and Growth Africa

You can apply to either the South Africa or Kenya program.

This 4-month program is focused on the environmental goods and services sector. It prepares entrepreneurs with the skills, knowledge, documentation and support required to secure investment for their businesses.

The core subjects that will be covered include:

  • Business modelling and strategic planning;
  • Products, services and market access development;
  • Theory of change and social and/or environmental impact;
  • Connecting with partners in the business ecosystem, including multinational companies, NGOs and governments;
  • Financial modelling and valuations;
  • Pitching to investors; and
  • Investment case writing and pitching to investors

Structure and Delivery

The Accelerator will be structured in eight modules, one every two weeks over a four- month period, held in both the Nairobi and Cape Town locations. Each module will include a combination of lectures, individual coaching, group discussions and presentations. In between each module there will be a range of assignments required to progress the core tasks being reviewed. Every entrepreneur will be supported by coaches and mentors who can assist them in completing the modules of the program.

The structure has been designed to combine expert, peer-to-peer learning, and pragmatic assignments that provide the basis for developing an investment case for support pitched to potential investors.

The expected outcomes of the Accelerator are to:

  • Increase the likelihood of securing growth capital for entrepreneurs in the environmental goods and services sector;
  • Strengthen the pipeline of investable entrepreneurs in this sector for local and international Impact Investors; and
  • Strengthen the broader network/ecosystem of environmental and socially inclusive businesses in Africa.

The Green Pioneer Accelerator is specifically designed for early to growth stage businesses in the environmental goods and services sector. It is not for idea stage entrepreneurs who have yet to generate revenue in their business. The type of businesses, which can apply include, but are not exclusive to the following list within the environmental sector:

  • Alternative Energy – waste to energy, biofuels, solar, wind and others;
  • Energy efficiency;
  • Solid waste reuse and effluent treatment;
  • Clean water;
  • Sustainable agriculture; and
  • Ecological building.

This program is keenly interested in supporting entrepreneurs with innovative products and services, who are tackling critical environmental challenges while also making a meaningful contribution to society and economic development.

Entrepreneurs from anywhere in South Africa or Kenya can apply. However, as all the group meetings will be held in Cape Town and Nairobi, entrepreneurs from elsewhere will need to be able to travel one day every two weeks for the duration of the program. Any travel related costs are not covered by the program.

Between 10-15 entrepreneurs will be selected for both the Cape Twon and Nairobi program. The selection process will function as follows:

  • The Selection Committee will review all the applications submitted against the criteria outlined below. The top 20 applicants will be shortlisted.
  • The 20 shortlisted applicants will be contacted to request additional information and set up interviews for the final selections.

The primary criteria that will be used to shortlist the 20 applicants will include, but not be exclusive to:

  • How commercially viable and capable of creating long term shareholder value is the entrepreneur?
  • Does the business have the potential to scale upwards or be a model that others can emulate?
  • Can the business become investment ready – structurally, practically, and psychologically or be capable of accelerated growth by participating in the programme?
  • What environmental issue is the business addressing? How material is this issue and what impact will the business have on it?
  • Does the business intend to make an impact on social issues? Although the purpose of the business may not be one that addresses a social problem, the businesses positive impact on this will be considered.

The following reflects the key dates for the program:

  • 1 October, 2014 – open for applications
  • 1 December – application process closes
  • 8 December – shortlisted candidates announced
  • 19 December – final selections made and announced
  • 19 January, 2015 – program begins
  • 30 April – program ends

The program’s success is predicated on both the organisers and the participating entrepreneur’s vested engagement. The entrepreneurs in the program can only be successful if they attend all the sessions and complete the assignments in between. This program is not a course and there are no exams. All the work required relates to developing the strategy and documentation required to get investment funding. As such, it is exclusively about achieving business growth and development and therefore requires the owners of those businesses to be active and engaged.

Impact Amplifier is the lead company in South Africa and will be driving the program and content along with other experts in the field. In Kenya, Growth Africas leading the programme out of Nairobi.

VC4Africa, an online networking platform for entrepreneurs and investors, is supporting both country programs. Participating entrepreneurs have access to free online tools, mentorship opportunities and private deal rooms. Graduates will have the ability to fundraise with over 600 private sector investors investing in sub-USD $1 million companies.

Hivos, which has funded this program, will be participating in the entrepreneur selection process, and supporting the program’s content. They are also reviewing the investment opportunities and have reserved EUR 100,000 for initial investments in South Africa and Kenya.

The Green Pioneer Accelerator is 95% funded by Hivos. However, each entrepreneur in the programme will be asked to make a nominal contribution toward the food and venues hired to deliver the program.

South Africa: ZAR 2,000
Kenya: KES 15,000

This contribution is also based on the reality that people value what they pay for.

You can apply to either the  South Africa) or Kenyaprogram. Alternatively, e-mail David van Dijk for details.