Millions of dollars in funding is now available for African community organizations and businesses working to restore degraded forests, farms and other landscapes, an international initiative has announced.
The program, which supports the country-led AFR100 Initiative, will pick 100 entrepreneurs and nonprofits across the continent to receive support in the form of grants or low-interest loans for their work planting and growing trees. World Resources Institute (WRI), an active technical partner of the 1000 Landscapes for 1 Billion People initiative, is one of AFR100’s lead implementing organizations. It’s working with partners One Tree Planted and Realize Impact on the program.
Early-stage for-profit businesses or nonprofits can apply for $50,000-150,000. Growth-stage organizations can apply for $250,000-500,000. But interested groups need to act fast—AFR100 is only taking applications through September 23, 2021. A panel of experts will soon begin weighing the applications, and the team will announce the first cohort of awardees during November’s UN Climate Change Conference’s COP26 meeting in Glasgow.
Apply here for a grant or loan if you are an African entrepreneur or community organization leader working to restore the continent’s degraded landscapes or get answers to the most common questions about the program in this recently released FAQ.
Funding projects on the ground
AFR100’s mission is to help African countries reach their agreed-upon goal of bringing 100 million hectares of land under restoration across the continent by 2030. The alliance’s objective is to heal forests, farms, pasture and other landscapes under significant threat from agricultural expansion and deforestation. They believe regenerating nature and productive lands will serve many ends: enhancing food security, increasing climate change resilience and mitigation and combating rural poverty.
Will Anderson, the communications lead for WRI’s Global Restoration Initiative, said the only way to meet that lofty objective is for local people working on the ground to have the resources they need to plant and care for trees.
“We want to see more money go directly to implementers on the ground,” Anderson says. “The idea for this request for proposals is to say, ‘We trust these people. We know that they do really great work. We know that they know how to restore land and their communities.'”
He and his team have been excited to see the response their request for tree restoration projects has already received. More than a thousand people participated in a webinar to learn more about the program, and applicants submitted some 600 projects through the website in little more than a week.
“We expected there to be a lot of interest in this funding opportunity, but we were kind of blown away by the sheer amount of ambition we’ve seen from these local entrepreneurs and community organizations,” Anderson said. “It has been really inspiring, and it shows that restoration is possible at scale. Achieving a big goal like AFR100’s is about believing in these kinds of local entrepreneurs and projects.”