Moving beyond VIA Water funding
VIA Water wants to make sure our projects are not just that – a project that ends when VIA Water’s funding ends. That is why we invited thirteen African project owners to Amsterdam for the VIA-GO week; a training week for project owners that are in the final stage of their project and are exploring possibilities to continue their project when the funding ends.
This event took place during the Amsterdam International Water Week (AIWW) from the 30th of October to the 3rd of November. The participants pitched for a large audience of experts; learned from experts how to continue their project; and visited various water sector institutions in the Netherlands. The main take-aways for VIA Water and for the participants: the importance of speaking the language of investors; ways of getting your core message across and of determining your target group; the importance of spending time with your peers and of well-prepared one-on-one meetings. In terms of seeking investments, the advice they received was to start by building a solid company instead of chasing after prizes and investors straight away.
“VIA-GO is undoubtedly the choice strategy for preparing early stage entrepreneurs for success. A unique approach that should be embraced by all.” Patrick Apoya, Ghana
The participants started the week by establishing their vision: where are you in 2023? After that they were ready to pitch during a Drop-the-MIC session at the AIWW: a pitching/presentation event in which the presenter drops the microphone when he or she is done with his pitch. Originally from the hip-hop & comedy scene, but brought to the water sector by VIA Water and the Netherlands Water Partnership. A full room of more than 110 water experts from all over the world listened to the VIA Water project owners, after which the pitchers and audience could mingle with the Dutch Water representatives of various Dutch embassies in Africa. Some beautiful photos were taken by annemiekkool.nl and can be viewed here.
“Getting the opportunity to pitch my innovation on such a platform is a humbling experience for me. “ Isaac Monney, Ghana
During a full day of training hosted by Russell Kerkhoven, Saskia Reus of Africa Funded explained the investment landscape, and presented an “investors’ vocabulary”, while two actual investors explained what they look for in water innovation projects. The topic of marketing was handled by Stephen Deul and our VIA-Water post-doc Silas Mvulirwenande ended the training with a deep-learning session.
A logistical miracle: that’s how field visit day could be described best. Every project owner had their own personal field visit across the Netherlands to meet up with fellow entrepreneurs, researchers, municipalites and utility providers in Arnhem, Delft, Wageningen, Houten, Amersfoort, Den Haag and Amsterdam.
“For sure the VIA-GO week has been an eye opener to me. I have met Dutch companies with solutions for my innovation and who are willing to help, plus connections with possible funders and investors.” Peter Chege, Kenya
We are looking forward to organising VIA GO II with our second batch of projects next year!