12 ecopreneurs restoring land and livelihoods in the Sahel

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Kaya Bülbül, Digital Producer, World Economic Forum, Gianluca Gygax, Community Specialist, Uplink, 1t.org


  • In May 2022, 1t.org and UpLink launched the second Trillion Trees Challenge aimed at supporting the Sahel and the Great Green Wall.
  • The aim was to source innovative start-ups and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) that contribute to the vision of the Great Green Wall Initiative and deliver benefits to people and the environment of the Sahel.
  • Over the coming months, 12 innovators will have an opportunity to scale their impact through promotion on social media, participation at events and introductions to experts and potential funders.

The Sahel region of Africa is one of the regions on Earth that is most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Already, millions of people have had to adapt to the worsening impacts of drought, food insecurity, conflict, and mass migration.

Africa’s Great Green Wall Initiative is a movement led by the African Union Commission, with an ambition to grow an 8,000km natural wonder of the world across the entire width of Africa, and with it, bring back peace and prosperity to the region.

In its second iteration of the Trillion Trees: the Sahel and the Great Green Wall Challenge, 1t.org and UpLink called for commercially viable solutions for scaling restoration that contribute to the vision of the Great Green Wall Initiative and deliver benefits to people and the environment of the Sahel. ​

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How UpLink is helping to find innovations to solve challenges like this

UpLink is a digital platform to crowdsource innovations in an effort to address the world’s most pressing challenges.

It is an open platform designed to engage anyone who wants to offer a contribution for the global public good. The core objective is to link up the best innovators to networks of decision-makers, who can implement the change needed for the next decade. As a global platform, UpLink serves to aggregate and guide ideas and impactful activities, and make connections to scale-up impact.

Hosted by the World Economic Forum, UpLink is being designed and developed in collaboration with Salesforce, Deloitte and LinkedIn.

The challenge was run in collaboration with UNCCD and its Great Green Wall Sourcing Challenge, which seeks to enroll major corporate partners in a mission of transforming the Sahel via market-driven, sustainable ethical supply chains. Other supporting partners included Barka Fund, Code Green, SeriousShea, SOS Sahel, and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). ​

The winning cohort announcement was made during the Food and Agriculture Pavilion at the UN’s Climate Change Conference 2022 (COP27), co-hosted by CGIAR, FAO and The Rockefeller Foundation.

2022 Trillion Trees: Sahel and the Great Green Wall challenge winners

Here are the winners of the 2022 Trillion Trees: Sahel and the Great Green Wall challenge:

Aerobic Agroforestry has built up substantial expertise in various Agroforestry commodities’ propagation and sales of seedlings. Their young tree plants find their way to clients within Nigeria and are accompanied by additional services to secure successful cultivation.

Agro-Eco Services, based in Benin, produces organic fertilizers based on black soldier fly larvae, that is enriched with Biochar. This allows farmers in Sahelian countries to optimize their yield by fertilizing their soil and retaining more water in the soil.

Baobab des Saveurs is a non-timber forest product start-up operating in Senegal. They support women producers by providing end-to-end support from processing to commercialisation of value chains such as Baobab and Desert Dates.

DPE2F Green Energy Mali invented a stove that converts heat into electricity capable of powering light bulbs, charging mobiles and allowing clean cooking – all powered by the biomass pellets and biochar they produce from local bio-waste in Mali.

Earthbanc’s innovation is bringing the carbon market to the Sahel. Their Sustainable Land Bonds is a new standardised carbon pre-purchase instrument to develop and scale new land restoration and drought resilience projects across the Great Green Wall region.

GTMD Sarl is a Malian agro business specializing in the trading and export of oilseed and seasonal products, namely shea and cashew nuts. They’ve also developed a process to use residues of shea production to produce ecological charcoal.

Herou Alliance is led by Rokiatou Traore, a female and Malian ecopreneur. They’ve developed an inclusive moringa value chain with a buyer-driven approach and a focus on reforestation and nutrition. Herou Alliance is exporting Moringa products to eight countries and supporting over 5000 women producers in Mali.

Integrated Women’s Development Organization implements participatory afforestation and restoration on degraded lands through agroforestry in Ethiopia and provides livelihoods and employment opportunities for more than 450 rural women.

Moto Feeds is providing pastoralist communities in semi-arid areas with grassland restoration that prevents soil erosion and produces animal fodder that generates an additional income for communities.

Shea Empowerment Foundation is a NGO that promotes agricultural and rural development through targeted training and capacity-building activities for Nigerian shea value chain players with the aim of income generation and poverty alleviation.

SOS Sahel Ethiopia is promoting economic opportunities from untapped high value agricultural products from Enset by introducing new processing technology, creating rural jobs for unemployed youth and women, and improving practices that will ensure long-term sustainability.

Tech-Innov Niger allows farmers to remotely control the irrigation, fertilization and watering system of their farm by means of mobile phone, solar energy and sensors allowing an intelligent distribution of water.

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