The Land Accelerator is a four-month program and curated network for entrepreneurs who restore degraded forests and farmland. It is anchored by an intensive week-long workshop when the cohort meets in person. The accelerator aims to build networks and skills necessary to scale businesses. There is no fee to join, and the program does not take equity. The inaugural Land Accelerator is coming to New Delhi, India in early June 2020.
Why Land Restoration
Addressing the High-Level Segment of the 14th Conference of Parties (COP14) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) on September 9th, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that “India would raise its ambition of the total area that would be restored from its land degradation status from 21 Million Hectares to 26 Million Hectares between now and 2030”. Worldwide over 3.2 billion people are at risk from land degradation. 96.4 million hectares of land in India, which is nearly 30% of the country’s landmass, is facing land degradation, resulting in lower yields on agricultural land, and wastelands lacking in the ability to support naturally occurring plants and animals.
Who are Land Restoration Entrepreneurs
Land Restoration Entrepreneurs are founders whose businesses restore the land. Yes, financially sustainable and profitable businesses can also restore land! A sampling of business models we have identified around the globe include: Farms that incorporate trees onto their land; growing restorative plants and trees (such as bamboo or cashew trees) on severely degraded lands, thus restoring the water table and increasing soil nutrients; the business of reforestation that creates forests for both private and public clients; agroforestry and silvopasture which adds trees to the landscape of traditional agriculture lands; creation of organic fertilizer, pesticides and other nature-based soil amendments; technologies that lessen the demand for firewood, such as bio-fuel cookstoves; business models that support the profitability of maintaining forests, such as eco-tourism, bioprospecting, and sustainable forest products such as honey, specialty seeds and berries, mushrooms, oils and more.
Impact of the Land Accelerator
Through the Land Accelerator, we build networks and give entrepreneurs time to increase their skills in storytelling and pitching so that they can connect with debt and equity funders who can help them reach the next level. Through expert mentorship, participants will explore new ways of maximizing their business models so that they can compete and grow their customer base, revenue, and environmental impact. Through sector-specific workshops participants will learn about cross cutting themes and best practices targeted towards land-based entrepreneurs such as farmer outreach, last-mile distribution, water management, international environmental certification standards and procedures, agroforestry techniques and conservation farming. The participants of Land Accelerators often network with one another, becoming each other’s newest clients, and most trusted sounding board for new ideas.
Illustration Photo: Agroforestry system in the rice fields (credits: Terry Sunderland / CIFOR / Flickr Creative Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0))