The IGNITE Innovation Hub for Eastern Africa is WFP’s first regional innovation hub and was established in collaboration with CARE Denmark to achieve climate-resilient inclusive and locally-led sustainable food systems. The Hub believes in harnessing local solutions to local problems, nurturing the entrepreneurial ecosystem to thrive, and simultaneously add value to WFP and CARE’s programmes.

The IGNITE Innovation Hub’s overall goal is that food systems in East Africa are climate resilient, inclusive and locally led. Our programmes are across three main pillars.

  1. Entrepreneur and youth innovation: with a core focus on strengthening local innovators with market-based solutions across the region via technical support, financial support, access to networks, and investors, as well as on building future leaders through youth programming.
  2. Collective learning on innovation: ensuring that programme design is adaptive and iterative based on lessons learnt and that activities collectively contribute to achieving systems- level impact.
  3. Innovation culture strengthening: equipping local teams with the mindsets, skills and resources to execute innovation activities.

This balance of fostering internal and external innovation whilst maintaining a north star of systems impact means that the IGNITE Innovation Hub uniquely positions to catalyse positive change. Throughout our work, we emphasise on sustainability, gender inclusion, youth empowerment, and climate action. 

Submit your innovation project

Please submit your relevant startup idea / venture. This is a continuous call and we will reach out to you when an opportunity to work together arises.

A Few Innovation Programmes and Projects
Please contact us for more information about our projects in Eastern Africa

IGNITE Innovation Challenge

The IGNITE Innovation Challenge is an entrepreneur support programme for early-stage innovators in East Africa. The first round focused on food systems entrepreneurs launched in October 2021 in South Sudan and Rwanda, with expansion to Uganda in early 2022.  

With support from USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA) and DANIDA, CARE, and WFP supported 48 early-stage food systems ventures through intensive bootcamps and mentoring sessions. Twenty-two high-performing ventures were selected to receive a total of US$850,000 equity-free funds to scale their businesses further. Follow more news on IGNITE Challenge by clicking here.  

In 2023, the IGNITE Innovation challenge will be launched for the second time in Rwanda and Uganda. 

NextGen Challenge

The IGNITE Innovation Hub launched the first ‘NextGen’ Challenge, a programme for East African youth innovators in collaboration with the Technical University of Denmark’s DTU Skylab FoodLab, the Hult Prize Foundation, and the Ministry of Danish Affairs. Nine teams of student innovators from Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Rwanda were selected out of 156 applicants to participate in a virtual bootcamp to develop their concepts further and participate in a pitch competition. 

Four winning teams from Ethiopia and Uganda, and two from Kenya, were selected during the pitch event (part-virtual, part-in-person). Participants in the programme received virtual mentoring and a month-long trip to DTU in Denmark, focusing on intensive prototyping and testing for their idea.  

This year, we are launching the second version of the NextGen Challenge.

Aflatoxin Innovation

One of the significant challenges facing the East African Region and leading to colossal food loss is the presence of aflatoxins in food. Aflatoxins are natural poisons produced when certain mold species grow in foods. It mainly affects maize, peanuts, cassava and sorghum. Every year about 26,000 Africans die of liver cancer through chronic aflatoxin exposure. Children's growth is affected, and families face major economic losses over rejected cereals. 

WFP has been working with USAID BHA to promote innovative approaches toward the issue of aflatoxin in the region. In 2022, the project was implemented with WFP Kenya where the use of minilabs for the detection of aflatoxins and nixtamalization for treatment were tested.  

The project will be scaled to WFP Ethiopia in 2023.

Milken-Motsepe Agri Tech Innovation Prize

The Milken-Motsepe Innovation Prize is a series of multi-year, multimillion-dollar prize competitions and programs to advance technological solutions that accelerate progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a spotlight on Africa.  The inaugural Milken-Motsepe Prize in Agri-Tech focuses on accelerating progress towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1 and 2: no poverty and zero hunger and focusses on innovative solutions to increase economic value to farmers in Africa, from seed to sale.  

The IGNITE Innovation Hub provides hands- on innovation support to the selected 25 innovators in collaboration with AfriLabs, to help them prototype and test their early stage solutions in the field to show proof of concept and learnings.


The IGNITE Innovation Hub's work is made possible through generous funding from USAID BHA, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, CARE Denmark, and the Milken Institute. Support organisations include the Technical University of Denmark’s (DTU) Skylab FoodLab, Impact Hub Kigali, Outbox Uganda, Afrilabs and UNDP.


Stay tuned: Sign up to be informed when applications are open and receive updates about our achievements and upcoming activities and events.

Why the Hub is Unique

The Hub is a joint initiative between CARE Denmark and WFP. By effectively collaborating, we can tackle shared problems articulated by affected populations,  utilize funding more efficiently, and to better influence core stakeholders. FP brings deep-field access, a network of cooperating partners, and strong expertise in humanitarian assistance, logistics livelihood, and food systems. With this, we are able to effectively partner in Eastern Africa with other UN agencies, NGOs, start-ups, and private sector companies to accelerate forward-looking innovative projects that disrupt hunger.  CARE Denmark equally brings strong connections to communities, networks of like-minded partners, and strong expertise in innovation, climate, and humanitarian assistance.  

The Hub has a unique opportunity to position itself as an activator of collaborative networks to work together towards sustainable systems level change. The Hub will endeavor to design its innovation challenges in a way that maps the current state of a food system problem and co-designs solutions with identified stakeholders. This makes strategic sense given the direction of WFP’s integrated programming and the ability to leverage multiple levers of change simultaneously to generate lasting impact.  

Our activities are aligned towards the Sustainable Development Goals, and we support external innovators and internal innovations to define their approach to environmental and social responsibility. This differentiates us from other innovation incubators in the region that do not have a focus on environmental and social responsibility and/or align activities to the Sustainable Development Goals.  

The Hub’s geographical footprint spans across 10 countries within which WFP has a deep field presence. Of these countries CARE is also present in Uganda, Somalia, and Ethiopia. Ultimately, as first movers into certain countries, there is heightened risk of failure with limited existing innovation networks and implementing partners to work with as well as more idea-stage innovations. A key question throughout is whether innovation challenges carry value in a crisis or protracted crisis setting. 

At the same time, the Hub can take greater risk than other investors / innovation incubators as it is funded by public money and foundations who do not expect a return on investment. The Hub thus acts as a catalyst to attract further investment into promising innovations that have been identified.