Seedstars has officially announced the finalists of its first Land Restoration Prize, launched in August in cooperation with the DOEN Foundation (Stichting DOEN), a Dutch fund supporting green, socially-inclusive and creative initiatives that contribute to a better and cleaner world.
The DOEN Land Restoration Prize was launched to find and award the best innovative solutions in the land restoration and land degradation space. This partnership between DOEN and Seedstars tackles the issues of unprecedented land degradation, and the loss of arable land at 30 to 35 times the historical rate. The challenge received over 220 applications.
The three awarded African startups are :
1.) Zafree Papers (Ethiopia), a company that manufactures a 100% tree-free unbleached paper pulp and paper products using agro-waste. The company saves more than 1⁄2 a million trees from being cut every year which have a higher positive impact and 30,000 ton of crop-residue from being set on fire.
2.) Green Fingers Mobile (South Africa), a mobile-first Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) technology platform that allows organizations working with smallholder farmers (SHF) to meet the criteria of food corps and provide a transparent value chain. In partnership with reforestation projects, they enable the tracking and monitoring of the disbursement to, and planting of trees by small farmers to counter the depletion of forests that small scale farming causes.
3.) Lono (Ivory Coast), a social enterprise created to develop new value chains from biowaste produced across the country. The cleantech company focuses on improving soil fertility through the development of an affordable, solar-powered composting box for smallholder farmers.
All three entrepreneurs will be awarded 9-month access to the Seedstars Investment Readiness Program, the hybrid program challenging traditional acceleration models by allowing entrepreneurs to create their own personalised curriculum with online and on-site sessions, creating a unique mix to improve startups performance and get them ready to secure investment.
In addition, the winner of the challenge will be announced during the Seedstars Summit Africa 2019 that will happen in Johannesburg, South Africa, from December 3 to 5 and win an additional USD 10K grant.
“We congratulate the finalists! Landscape restoration is a vital part of a regenerative economy and social entrepreneurs play an important role in establishing innovative business models to counter land degradation and deforestation.
Through this challenge, DOEN wants to highlight the work of early-stage restoration enterprises and inspire other frontrunners to follow suit.” says Saskia Werther, Program Manager at the DOEN Foundation.
For this first edition, a specific emphasis was laid on several points: Finance the restoration of degraded land for production and/or conservation purposes; big data and technology to reverse land degradation; resource efficiency optimization technologies, ecosystems impacts reduction and lower carbon emissions; water-saving soil technologies; technologies focused on improving livelihoods and communities; planning, management and education tools for land restoration; agriculture (with a focus on precision conservation) and agroforestry; clean Energy solutions that aid in the combat of land degradation; and responsible ecotourism that aids in the support of land restoration.