irrigation window

The MICF Irrigation Window aims to introduce new initiatives that deliver new products, services and business models that link smallholder producers to markets by increasing the production of crops under irrigation, leading to viable self-financed cultivation of irrigated crops.

SUBMITTING A CONCEPT NOTE

The Concept Note is the first part of the application process to the Malawi Innovation Challenge Fund (MICF). Applicants wanting to participate in the MICF must initially complete a concept note. The Concept Note allows applicants to briefly present how ideas respond to one of the challenges set by the MICF. The MICF fund managers will review the concept notes to ensure they are completed correctly and fulfil the eligibility criteria before submitting them to an independent evaluation panel for their review.  Those applicants that are successful at the concept note stage will pass to the second stage of the competition where the Fund will ask applicants to submit a full proposal according to a format provided by the MICF Fund Managers.

Application process

The Malawi Innovation Challenge Fund adopts a three-stage application approach for both Agriculture and Manufacturing challenge windows. The following provides a brief overview of the application and contracting process.

Applying

It is easy to apply. If you think that you have a good idea that responds to the challenges that are currently open to receive applications, please submit a short concept note application form to us. The concept note forms can be downloaded from our website or alternatively they are available upon request from the MICF offices in either Lilongwe or Blantyre.

What We Need To Know

The concept note form is a very brief form (not more than 6 pages long) which aims to understand basic information about:
  1. Your Company
  2. What your business idea is
  3. What you think is innovative about it;
  4. Why you have come to MICF to finance the project rather than using other commercial sources; and
  5. How in your opinion the business idea will impact on the poor in terms of either jobs created or improving the incomes of the poor.

What Happens After Submitting

Once the deadline for concept note applications closes, the concept notes will be assessed by the MICF investment panel. This investment panel is made up of independent and extremely successful individuals constituted from outside the public sector. Each member has been carefully vetted and expected to adhere to a Code of Conduct, and will perform their role with the highest degree of probity and discretion.

Second Stage

If your company is successful during this initial assessment you will be invited by MICF to the second stage, to develop and submit a full proposal. This will be a much more detailed document stating:
  1. activities and timelines with respect to what you propose to do;
  2. how this new business idea fits into your existing business / business model and how it will be commercially viable;
  3. how it will impact on the poor and on exports;
  4. what other partners if any will participate with your firm and the roles each will play;
  5. how progress towards implementation will be monitored; and
  6. a detailed financing plan to understand how costs will be shared between your consortium and MICF.

Successful Applicants

The MICF team will invite successful applicants to a full-day workshop, to be held in both Blantyre and Lilongwe, to brief your firm on how to submit your proposal, and answer any points of clarification that you may have. At the workshop your firm will also be provided with a proposal form, detailed guidelines for completing it, and deadlines for completing the form.

Company Visits

As part of the process to support the Investment Panel in their selection of grantees, the MICF Team will visit each company to carry out basic due diligence assessments. The proposals and MICF due diligence reports will be presented to the investment panel for their final selection.

Logic Model and Framework

The MICF team will work with your firm and / or consortia to develop a project logic model and a framework for monitoring the results of your project. The logic model provides a theoretical basis of how your proposed interventions are supposed to work – what they are expected to do and what they are expected to accomplish. Based on this a framework for monitoring the performance for your individual project will be developed and agreed with your company.

Identify Milestones

The MICF team will work with your firm to define milestone-based payments. Once the monitoring framework has been agreed with your firm, it will then be used to identify ‘milestones’ which will also be agreed with you, along with the means of verifying the attainment of each milestone. These milestones will serve as payment triggers for the release of MICF grant funding. The MICF will pay out a proportion of the total grant based on achieving each identified milestone.

Activities vs. Budget

Your company and the MICF team will subsequently work together to assign specific activities with projected budget expenditures (relating to what your company and the MICF provide).

eligibility criteria

Bids must be led by private sector firms including: a private for-profit company, joint ventures, partnership, cooperative, sole trader, etc. Only in exceptional cases will MICF consider new businesses (start-ups), where there is strong evidence that the new company has credible and experienced investors and management team. Applicants must meet all of the following criteria for your application to be considered:
Bids must be led by private sector firms including: a private for-profit company, joint ventures, partnership, cooperative, sole trader, etc. Only in exceptional cases will MICF consider new businesses (start-ups), where there is strong evidence that the new company has credible and experienced investors and management team. Applicants must meet all of the following criteria for your application to be considered:
  1. The total grant funds requested must be at least US$ 100,000 and no more than US$ 500,000.
  2. Applicant (including 3rd parties such as co-investors or banks and other lenders) provides matching funds of at least 50% of the total cost of the business idea i.e. at least as much as the funds requested from the MICF.
  3. The funding request must be for a specific, new and innovative business idea in the irrigation sector. The MICF views innovation in its broadest sense including: i) a new approach, product, idea or service that has not been tested anywhere; ii) an approach, product, idea or service that is new to Malawi; or iii) an approach, product, idea or service that has not been applied to the sector in question in Malawi.
  4. The project must demonstrate that the activities that will be funded by the MICF will be additional to the company’s existing activities and that the project would not go ahead without MICF funding. The MICF could also consider projects that if they would have gone ahead, it would be at a much reduced pace or scale in the absence of MICF support.
  5. The applicant company may collaborate with other organizations, including non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and community organisations, and farmers’ organisations. However, it is a condition that the lead applicant and implementer of the business idea must always be a commercial company/business.
  6. The idea must be implemented in Malawi either by private sector organisations registered in Malawi or externally registered businesses investing in Malawi.
  7. A consortium may be formed, but the lead applicant is responsible for the project/ idea and must warrant that the permission of the other members has been obtained.