Farm Africa is an international non-governmental organisation (INGO) that works in remote and resource-poor rural areas in Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda to end hunger and bring prosperity to rural Africa.

Our vision is a prosperous rural Africa. We reduce poverty permanently by unleashing African farmers’ abilities to grow their incomes and manage their natural resources sustainably. We work with farmers, pastoralists, agro–pastoralists, smallholders, forest dwellers and other stakeholders to develop, test and support roll out of successful solutions to achieve long-term improvements in their lives.

Maendeleo Agricultural Enterprise Fund (MAEF) is a grant-making fund that aims to sustainably improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in East Africa by investing in innovative agri-business enterprises that seek to either create or adapt technologies for improving agricultural productivity, increasing profitability and linking smallholder farmers to viable, profitable and sustainable markets. Any of such entities as described in the eligibility criteria are encouraged to apply. We address these through key themes in light of the changing global trends, communities felt needs and existing climatic and environmental challenges. MAEF will help promote successful solutions that improve livelihoods and increase resilience of vulnerable smallholder farmers.

The MAEF Innovation Incubator Fund is one of the MAEF’s funding streams that will provide small grants support to innovative agricultural ideas.

This is a call for innovative ideas to incubate from MAEF’s Innovation Incubator Fund (IIF). The key focus is that it will lead to a proof of concept that has the potential to develop into successful, sustainable, scalable, replicable and viable commercial businesses that would profit and improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the East Africa region.

Philosophy of the MAEF Innovation Incubator Fund

The Innovation Incubator Fund will invest in innovative ideas with recognised potential at an early stage. It will help grantees to refine and strengthen their ideas and, where appropriate test their modifications/adaptations at a limited scale (a few farmers groups with about 100 farmers). It will be a channel to promote and strengthen agricultural innovation and ‘Research and Development’ at the field level.

The Innovation Incubator Fund will further develop innovations that meet the priorities and needs of smallholder farmers.

It will fund project ideas for a period of 12 to 18 months. The funding grant level is GBP13,650.

Farm Africa’s MAEF team will guide and monitor the project development and build the capacity of grantees. At the end of the grant period, the grantees will have a fully developed proposal and will be in a stronger position to apply for further funding to implement their approach from MAEF’s Competitive Value Chain Fund and other grant-making organisations / financing institutions.


  1. Country and geographical focus: This application is open to applicants operating within the specified regions of East Africa that is Kenya (Central and Nairobi Counties), Uganda (Central and peri-urban Kampala regions) and Tanzania (Morogoro and Pwani Regions)
  2. Applicants should have a track record in agricultural development and agri-business in those countries; have proven capacity to manage grant funds and fall under the categories as listed below

Category 1: Local non-governmental organisations (LNGOs), community-based organisations (CBOs), farmer associations

Ideal requirements

For existing business entity: Applicant should provide:

  • Evidence of an existing and ongoing innovative idea that can work with smallholder farmers.
  • Evidence of how this grant will ensure full development of the idea to a proof of concept of an innovative business.

For non-existing business entity: Applicant should provide:

  • Indication of supporting and working with smallholder farmers.
  • Indication on how the applicant will work with private companies, SMEs, or business agencies to develop the idea further in order to support smallholder farmers

Category 2: Private companies (agri-business firms, small and medium enterprises -SMEs, cooperatives, farmer business agencies), academia, and research organisations and individuals

Applicant should provide:

  • Clearly explained innovative idea and what the gaps are that once unlocked will support smallholder farmers profitably.
  • Indication of some commercially sustainable and profitable relationship with smallholder farmers or groups.
  • Indication of how this grant will help commercialise and sustain the business or develop a business plan with a fundable idea
  • Evidence of working with farmer groups/CBOs that support and organise smallholder farmers in the supply chain to link up with either a company, business or an enterprise

3. Applicants should not have an ongoing Farm Africa funded project. The idea should be innovative with a potential for further development. They should demonstrate potential to form effective synergistic partnerships with technology innovators, researchers, business development service providers/or organisation, extension service providers and business firms such as financial institutions, quality assurance organisations, commodity processors and buyers where applicable.

How to apply

Stage 1: Interested applicants should submit Concepts Notes on the Innovative Idea using the prescribed business plan template (Word)

Stage 2: Only successful applicants from stage 1 will be contacted.

Stage 3: For those who successfully go through stage 2, discussions and due diligence processes will follow.

Application deadline

The applications MUST be submitted by email to [email protected] by 20 July 2013.

Successful applicants will be contacted by Farm Africa’s MAEF representative at each stage.

Agribusiness Information