GLOBAL— United States Agency International Development (USAID), has announced US$35 million for the Water and Energy for Food (“WE4F”) Challenge.

The announcement was made in October at the Social Capital Markets conference (SOCAP19) in San Francisco, by USAID’s Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick. 

This initiative according to USAID will increase sustainable agricultural and food value-chains, food security, and climate resilience in developing countries and emerging markets.

The agency further noted that the initiative will particularly focus on the poor and women by investing in small enterprises that work in combinations of food, water, and energy.

WE4F is a partnership between USAID, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of The Netherlands.

The WE4F partners believe private-sector capital is key to expand successful SGEs in the world’s poorest areas.  The program expects to mobilize more than $25 million in private investment capital.

The launch of WE4F includes the release of the WE4F Innovator Guidebook: Navigating Business Models for the Base of the Pyramid in Water and Energy for Food. 

This guide is intended to support entrepreneurs who work at the intersection of water, agriculture, and energy, and draws lessons learned from SWFF innovators in Bangladesh, Uganda, Ghana, India, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Perú.

 It provides a roadmap for WE4F enterprises to grow successfully in areas of the world where it is difficult to sustain a business.

WE4F is a logical extension of the groundbreaking, five-year Securing Water for Food (SWFF) and Powering Agriculture Energy (PAEGC) Grand Challenges, which enrolled 80 innovators from more than 40 countries to develop more food with less water and use renewable energy more efficiently.

SWFF and PAEGC have produced nearly six million tons of food, reduced the consumption of water by more than 19 billion liters, saved more than two million trees, and benefitted more than 6.3 million farmers and their families. 

WE4F adds the crucial element of engaging impact investors to expand the impact of small-grid electric systems (SGEs) for each of them to reach more than 100,000 users.