SMEs and Ventures

#BusinessOpportunity: The GIZ-SAIS Investment Readiness Programme 2022 for Agtech Start-ups in Africa.

Application Deadline: August 31st, 2021

‘Scaling Digital Agriculture Innovations through Startups’ (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). The overall goal of the project is to support African startups in scaling their digital innovations; these innovations should enable users in the agriculture or food sectors to increase their income. Up to 18 startups are selected annually to participate in a nine-month Investment Readiness Programme fully funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

The aim of the Investment Readiness Programme is to support more African startups in improving their business models, gaining access to investors and business partners, and achieving greater impact. Seven output indicators (also called investment readiness criteria or investment readiness output indicators) have been defined to assess and monitor the investment readiness level of selected startups.

Indicator 1: The competencies of the founding team are improved (e.g. pitch training, operations management, leadership, startup valuation (“pre-money”), clear roles, and responsibility of management team).

Indicator 2: The startup’s data room is improved and all necessary documents for effective due diligence are available (e.g. pitch deck, annual balance sheet, accounting, bank statements, forecasts, and exit strategy).

Indicator 3: A digital system for monitoring the startup’s user base is established and provides data (“data analytics”).

Indicator 4: A market research and competitiveness analysis of the startup is available for their own national market and possible expansion markets.

Indicator 5: A strategy and a catalogue of measures for marketing & sales are available and guide the actions of the founding team for scaling the start-up.

Indicator 6: The startup’s product (“digital agricultural innovation”) is market-ready (e.g. customer-driven product development, product-market fit, data security, suitable for national regulations).

Indicator 7: The startup’s customer growth is improved (improved customer acquisition rate).


SAIS is looking for innovative startups 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.

Please note that early-stage startups will not be considered for the program.


The Investment Readiness program includes:

Weekly advisory and coaching sessions

Weekly advisory and coaching sessions held virtually during which strategies and measures for rapid growth and scaling, product improvement and innovation, leadership and business management operations are developed and implemented with the startups;

Additional services

Based on the startup’s commitment, access to additional services to optimize certain segments (e.g. legal advice, marketing, coding, product optimization, etc.) of the startups.

Hub integration

Integration of the selected startups in one of our partner hubs in their home country in order to facilitate their visibility and establish contact with relevant actors in the local startup scene.

Access to GIZ-SAIS network

Access to investors and business partners from the GIZ-SAIS network.

Extended services

Add-on services for female entrepreneurs.

Meet-up events

Up to three in-person meet-up events. Depending on the COVID-19 situation over the course of 2022, it may be possible to shift the in-person meet-ups to online events. At the moment the plan is to start the IRP with a kick-off workshop in Capetown, in January 2022 (CW4), followed by a virtual mid-term check-in June 2022; a demo-day with investors and business partners will conclude the program in September 2022.

Mandatory criteria

Legal representation
– The startup must be registered and operating in at least one African country.
– A certification of incorporation will be a prerequisite.

– The startup must have a team of at least two people.
– The management team must be highly motivated and work at the business ideally full-time.

Digital product
– The startup must 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 startup must have launched its digital product at least six months prior to the application period.
– The startups provide evidence of good traction (customer base, first revenues)

Competitive criteria

Business model
The startup 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 startup 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 startup is selected for the IRP.

Level of innovation
Innovative and disruptive solutions will be regarded as an asset. Solutions that help mitigate the post impact of Covid-19 will be taken into special consideration.

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


Building digital expertise for farmers (eSkills, eLiteracy), eLearning, precision farming, access to market, access to finance, digital payment, supply chain management, food delivery, animal and crops health, soil fertility, logistics and transport, e-commerce, gamification, big data, data analysis, open data, data protection, data security, cybersecurity, crowdsourcing, digital storytelling.


Internet of things, precision farming (chipcards, sensors, drones, remote sensing system) artificial intelligence (AI), virtual/augmented reality, 3D-printer, robotics, digital learning software (eLearning system, MOOC platforms, open educational resources), database, blockchain, information-management systems (IMS), monitoring, controlling systems, GIS (Geo-Information Systems) /Mapping, SMS-services, web platforms, Apps, social media, big data analysis systems.

For More Information:

Visit the Official Webpage of the GIZ-SAIS Investment Readiness Programme 2022

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