Africa Funded initiated and facilitated a program to support one of the funds of Aqua for All, to increase dealflow. The VIA Water Innovation Challenge is introduced as an intense six week accelerator program taking 8 innovative water startups from 4 countries in Africa to a pilot proposal stage.

The pioneers were identified after a rigorous multi-phase selection process which focused on the degree in which the project improves water related pressing needs in urban areas, the level of originality and the level of relevance. The 8 finalists demonstrated an innovative and disruptive approach in solving urban water issues in Africa cities. Since peer-to-peer learning is an important component of the programme we also looked into potential areas of knowledge sharing and knowledge creation within the group.

The program is initiated and facilitated by Africa Funded for VIA Water, an UNESCO-IHE hosted initiative and sub-fund of Aqua for All. VIA Water aims at improving urban water issues in Benin, Ghana, Rwanda, South Sudan, Kenya, Mozambique and Mali.

We provide a comprehensive programme to support the pioneers in identifying the best approach to take their ideas forward. In September and October 2015 participants followed an intense program to develop a business model and theory of change for their idea, to figure out the needs of the market and its users, learn about organisational set up, finance and budgeting and risk identification and mitigation. The end result was a sound pilot proposal to be screened with the internal investment committee and shared with the VIA Water Advisory Committee. The proposals with the best fit for the VIA Water programme were offered the opportunity to pilot their innovation with support from experts, network and funding.

The selected pioneers are listed below:

Patrick Apoya and Elliot Abra– SkyFox - Ghana
Indicates there is a major opportunity to improve efficiency of urban water utilities through consumer self-billing and payment of water bills. This new service is in line with the core business of his company SkyFox and subsidiary Postal Technologies.

Dickson Ochieng Otieno – Sanivation – Kenya
Sanivation is currently delivering household sanitation services to urbanizing communities. They install container-based toilets inside people's homes for free, and charge a monthly subscription for waste collection, and then transform collected waste into charcoal briquettes. Sanivation plans to develop and pilot a service model to provide their services to landlords and labor camps. This could have tremendous scaling opportunities for increasing access to safe sanitation services in Africa.

Nafisatu Ahmed – Ghana
Would like to strengthen and activate civil society in reducing non-revenue water by developing an effective feedback and reporting system for improved urban water supply. Water rates in Ghana doubled and leakages are a major cost. Nafisatu developed a model she would like to fine tune that includes the public to report the leakages and support Ghana Water Company to solve the problem and reduce non-revenue water costs (needs to establish a startup, which is within scope of the fund).

Kevin Maina Mureithi - Trace Group - Kenya
Kevin is looking into matching the solid waste problem in Kenya with the high demand for construction materials and reducing water pollution issues. The new activities will be an expansion of activities within his waste collection company.

Isaac Monney – Ghana
Observed that the increasing number of over 100 car wash stations in Kumasi results in a threat to the water supply and surface water resources and he would like to take a business approach to solve pollution and sourcing issues by closing the loop. Isaac is a lecturer at the Department of Environmental Health and Sanitation Education at the University of Education, Winneba and has an entrepreneurial background. Challenge is to develop a model that is an attractive alternative for car washers illegal tapping water. This kind of experimental projects are in line with the scope of the fund.

Peter Chege Gichuku - Hydroponics Africa Ltd - Kenya
Pioneered simplified hydroponics technologies made of locally available materials and with his company Hydroponics Africa he installed 567 hydroponics units and trained over 5,000 people on hydroponics since year 2012. Peter is passionate about solving food and water issues by the opportunity to test the production of rice within these systems that will use80% less water and produces 3 times more crops per year. We currently look into making this technique accessible to the Base of the Pyramid, increasing yield and replacing growing crops in areas that are polluted with heavy metals.

Maurice Abayo (WASAC), Luc Einstein Ngend Ngend (University of Rwanda) & Philippe Kwitonda (RNRA), Indogobe Smart Water Ltd, Rwanda
These participants see a market potential in developing smart water storage & delivery services in urban Rwanda by means of intelligent water tanks, conveyers, an ordering app and education. Finalists of the VIA Water Rwanda Water & ICT Accelerator and therefore qualified for participation in the VIA Water Innovation Challenge.

Sebastiao Inacio Famba ( – Mozambique
'Don’t waste the waste water!' It could be used to grow forest, bamboo and other plants. By doing that in an organized way, it can become profitable: economically (carbon credits, value of wood, fertilizer), socially (leisure park) and environmentally (green longs in the city). In a pilot will develop the mechanisms using a participatory approach integrating all relevant stakeholders.