Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

About the programme

What is the Biodiversity Finance Accelerator (BioFA) project about?

This Biodiversity Finance Accelerator (BioFA) project mobilises biodiversity investments and scales biodiversity-friendly entrepreneurship, thus contributing to a sustainable use, conservation and restoration of ecosystems.

BioFA empowers biodiversity-positive Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) to consolidate their business model, develop financial plans and thus, become eligible for external financing. Biodiversity-positive enterprises have developed business models which from the outset are designed to conserve and restore ecosystems and thus create positive biodiversity impacts. Highly interactive capacity building programmes (Accelerator Programmes; Replicator Workshops) will strengthen the capacities of biodiversity MSMEs in both countries. These will be complemented by Biodiversity Roundtables and other exchange formats to encourage cross-sector collaboration and increase awareness among various stakeholders.

adelphi is implementing the project together with the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) based in Malawi and the Women's Entrepreneurship Access Center (WEAC) based in Zambia. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).

How can I contact the Biodiversity Finance Accelerator team?

If you should have questions regarding the programme, please reach out to us via e-mail or contact our in-country partners, LUANAR and WEAC, via phone/WhatsApp:

  • E-Mail: biofa@adelphi.de
  • Phone (Malawi): LUANAR +265 995 567 000;
  • Phone (Zambia): WEAC +260 97 7487714

What does the Accelerator programme comprise?

The complete acceleration programme will take about nine months, starting in June 2022 and run up until February 2023. There will be three enterprise cohorts per country, comprising 5 selected biodiversity-positive enterprises each. Each cohort will participate in 3 three-days peer-learning workshops with a total of nine full workshop days. In between the workshops, enterprises receive individual coaching on selected topics.

Who can apply? What are biodiversity-positive enterprises?

Biodiversity-positive enterprises or organisations provide innovative, market-driven solutions to the conservation, restoration and/or management of nature and ecosystems. If your business model has such effects on the environment, then you may apply for this programme.

Often, biodiversity-positive enterprises or organisations can be found in the following sectors (see list with examples below):

  • Invasive Species Management: Removal and commercialisation of invasive species, e.g. as organic livestock feed or human food product
  • Eco-tourism: Promotion of biodiversity-friendly touristic activities (e.g. forest safaris, fly-fishing) to raise awareness on nature conservation and preserve local fauna and flora
  • Sustainable agriculture: Application of biodiversity-friendly farming techniques (e.g. organic management, conservation buffers, agroforestry)
  • Re-/ Afforestation: Cultivation and sales of (indigenous) tree seedlings; carbon offsetting scheme through tree-planting activities
  • Provision of resource alternatives: Waste-to-energy products such as biomass briquettes that replace wood-based products like charcoal and contribute to halt deforestation
  • Biodiversity-based products: Commercial cultivation and processing of threatened indigenous (medicinal) plants, sustainable bee-keeping, non-timber forest products etc.

If you are unsure whether you qualify, you can contact us at biofa@adelphi.de and we can help you with your assessment.

Why should I take part in this programme?

The Biodiversity Finance Accelerator will help consolidate enterprises’ business models while fostering their financial readiness to attract funding.

SMEs’ largest barrier in their business development is the lack of financial resources. However, financial actors need to be assured that their investments are based on sound business fundamentals and comprehensive financial planning. The best way to showcase and proof that these criteria are met is by providing financial actors with a convincing business plan and a satisfactory financial assessment of current and future operations, which the programme can support you with.

Is there direct financial support?

No. The Biodiversity Finance Accelerator focuses on enabling and fostering your financial readiness, which is the core prerequisite to attain financial support from financial actors. The programme, however, does not provide direct funding, but offers opportunities for selected enterprises to showcase their business model on a national and international level as well as to build new partnerships with potential supporters or financiers through targeted networking activities.

Will I get connected to financial institutions?

The Biodiversity Finance Accelerator has no direct match-making components foreseen. However, selected enterprises will be invited to biodiversity breakfasts and cross-sectoral roundtables to showcase their business models, exchange experiences and build new partnerships – with a focus on access to external finance. In addition, the programme will participate in relevant national and international events where selected enterprises can present themselves.

Will there be a Biodiversity Finance Accelerator each year?

The Biodiversity Finance Accelerator programme is planned as a one-off activity. However, the BioFA project foresees further activities to promote biodiversity-positive enterprises and the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Malawi and Zambia, e.g. by offering a Replicator programme in 2023 to replicate successful biodiversity-positive business models. Please stay tuned and check our website for the latest information on upcoming activities.

About applications

How do I apply for the Biodiversity Finance Accelerator programme?

Applications for the Biodiversity Finance Accelerator programme can be submitted until April 5, 2022 (extended deadline), via the online application form or via e-mail to biofa@adelphi.de, using the PDF application form available for download on the project website.

What if my internet connection does not allow me to complete the online application?

If your internet connection is too unstable to apply through our online platform, you may use the offline application form available for download at www.biofa.info and submit via email to biofa@adelphi.de.

Which countries are eligible for the Biodiversity Finance Accelerator?

The Biodiversity Finance Accelerator programme is open to biodiversity-positive enterprises from Malawi and Zambia.

I am from a different country, can I still apply?

Unfortunately, the Biodiversity Finance Accelerator is only designated to support enterprises and organisations based in Malawi and Zambia. However, you are still eligible to apply if you are not a Malawian or Zambian citizen but your operations are based in one of the two countries.

I do not yet have a business, but plan to establish one. Can I still apply?

Only operating enterprises and organisations with running business activities can participate in the Biodiversity Finance Accelerator. We will, however, offer a Biodiversity Entrepreneurship Replicator programme in 2023, in which proven biodiversity-positive business models are replicated by entrepreneurs interested in setting up their own business. We will advertise the Replicator programme in early 2023, please stay tuned!

What criteria do you use to select enterprises for the Biodiversity Finance Accelerator?

When selecting biodiversity-positive enterprises for the Biodiversity Finance Accelerator, we look for enterprises that 1) demonstrate entrepreneurship and innovation; 2) deliver nature conservation benefits; 3) have the potential to scale-up and/or be replicated in other contexts; 4) are at early to growth stages; 5) have the intention and potential to become financially stable; 6) are locally founded or locally led.

After applying – next steps

What happens after I submit my application?

Once you have submitted your application, you should receive an e-mail confirming your submission. If you do not receive this, please check with the Biodiversity Finance Accelerator team. (Don’t forget to check your spam folder).

After the final deadline, the Biodiversity Finance Accelerator selection team evaluates all applications based on a predefined set of eligibility criteria. If your biodiversity-positive enterprise is shortlisted, we will be in touch to request additional documents to further support your application. Your application together with the additional documents will then be evaluated by the BioFA international jury. All applicants will be notified of their application results, whether successful or not, by May 2022.

Where will the accelerator workshops take place? Do I have to pay for accommodation and travel?

The Biodiversity Finance Accelerator workshops will primarily take place in the capital cities of Lilongwe and Lusaka, in venues that allow for successful and intense in-person workshops as well as complying with COVID-19-related health regulations. Part of the workshops might also take place in other cities, depending on the location of selected biodiversity-positive enterprises. Accommodation and travel expenses are covered by the programme. Further details on the process will be shared after the application process has been concluded.

Who will be implementing the Accelerator programme and workshops?

While adelphi is responsible for the overall coordination of the project, the local partner organisations will implement the Biodiversity Finance Accelerator workshops on the ground. For Malawi, this is the Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR) in cooperation with a local Business Development Service provider, while the Women’s Entrepreneurship Access Centre (WEAC) will conduct the Zambian workshops.

Will the workshops be safe for me, given COVID is still an issue?

We strictly comply with country-specific COVID-19 health regulations and place importance on comprehensive hygiene measures when selecting our workshop venues. Before each workshop, we will carefully evaluate the situation with our in-country partners. If the situation should not allow for in-person meetings, we might move part of the workshop sessions to a hybrid or virtual setting. However, since from our experience, in-person meetings are much more effective in terms of peer-learning and exchange, we favor implementation on the ground and will take respective measures as needed (e.g. by choosing time periods with low incidences or splitting up cohorts to reduce the total number of participants).

What about my intellectual property?

Applying to the Biodiversity Finance Accelerator does not require you to provide information about your "start-up secrets" or intelligence. You are not required to disclose information about your proprietary technology.

However, the application will ask for information that demonstrates your business progress, funding status, and market opportunity. This information is critical to help us evaluate your fit for the programme.