Zanaco Green Innovation Challenge

Where Zambian sustainability innovators grow and scale their solutions.

Deadline: Saturday, 26th August 2023, 23:59 hours

About the Zanaco Green Innovation Challenge - powered by WATER FOR WATER (WfW)

A growing world has led to an increased demand for products and services, therefore increasing the use of our planet’s resources. The effects of this on our planet have led to overuse and depletion of natural resources, as well as damage to our environment and climate. Humans have had to take a more conscious approach about how we design our lives, and the businesses we create to sustain us, for our generation and for those to come.

The Zanaco Green Innovation Challenge, powered by WATER FOR WATER (WfW), is a business challenge designed to support sustainability-focused startups to boost their innovative solutions. Selected innovators will participate in a business and design boot camp, mentoring and receiving service- or product-market fit support, and the winning teams will receive seed funding.

Eligibility Criteria

Age range

Individuals between 18-35 years old (founders).

Business longevity

Businesses should have been in operation for 1-3 years.


The Bootcamp will be held in Lusaka. For applicants not based in Lusaka, please find more information here.

Problem-solving focus

Businesses should be addressing problems related to Clean Water and Sanitation, Circular Consumption and Production, and Climate Action.
Note: Solutions utilising art (multimedia), technology, and learning or educational programs are highly encouraged to apply.

Benefits of the Challenge

The Zanaco Green Innovation Challenge, powered by WATER FOR WATER (WfW), provides early-stage sustainability-focused businesses with:


Coaching in Product and Service Design; Business Modelling; Financial Modelling; holistic Business Storytelling and Impact Measurement and Management.


Mentorship from the foremost thinkers and doers in the green innovation space in Zambia and beyond.

Seed funding

Seed funding of K750,000; K500,000 and K250,000 respectively for the selected winning businesses.


Access to a growing network and community of innovators in Zambia’s sustainability-focused and circular economy sector.

Challenge Objectives

To Identify

The challenge aims to identify promising sustainability-focused solutions proposed by small businesses applying for the competition. It seeks innovative ideas that align with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation; 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production; and 13 - Climate Action. These solutions should address key challenges related to water, sanitation, responsible consumption, and climate action, particularly in peri-urban areas.

To Support

Small businesses selected for the challenge will receive comprehensive support throughout the program. They will be provided with mentorship, guidance, and resources to refine and develop their proposed solutions. The Challenge will offer a Solution and Design Bootcamp, one-on-one mentoring, and assistance to achieve key milestones during the support phase.

To Scale

Winning small businesses will have the opportunity to scale their sustainability-focused solutions beyond the competition's duration. The challenge aims to facilitate the successful implementation and scalability of the selected solutions, thereby driving a broader positive environmental and societal impact in Zambia's Lusaka Province.

Challenge Categories

In order to attract new ideas that address current challenges in realising Zambia’s ‘green potential’, WATER FOR WATER (WfW) held insight formation workshops and interviews with Zanaco and various sector experts from manufacturing, environment/wilderness preservation, FMCG, Technology, CSR, WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene), climate justice, climate action and solar energy.

To be eligible to apply for the Challenge, businesses must be solving problems in one of three spheres (in line with SDGs 6, 12 and 13):

Improving water access and sanitation


Reducing waste production and promoting recycling and responsible consumption


Mitigating the effects of climate change 



The Zanaco Green Innovation Challenge powered by WATER FOR WATER (WfW) aims to identify, support and scale early-stage sustainability-focused startups in Zambia, in order to realise their potential and influence positive socio-environmental impact.


Zanaco is a home-grown bank, established in 1969 by the Government Republic of Zambia (GRZ) to service the financial needs of the Zambian economy. Over the last 54 years Zanaco has evolved into a leading financial institution fondly known as the "People’s Bank", and been recognized for their commitment to growing "the people, communities, businesses, and Zambia – Our Home". Zanaco offers a universal set of transactional, lending, investment and insurance products and services.
  • The Reach: Presence in all 10 provinces of the country.
  • The Comprehensive Solutions: Universal Omnichannel Banking. Collection and payment solutions serving universities, utilities, insurance companies, telecommunication companies, banks and the Government of Zambia.
  • The Fast Growing Partnerships: Zanaco Xpress agents across the country providing last mile services and employment for over 44,000 Zambian youths. Agents provide simple transaction services such as cash deposits and withdrawals on behalf of the bank.
  • The Experience: Decades of transactional solutions serving over 4 million registered customers.


WATER FOR WATER (WfW) is an independent non-profit organisation that promotes the sustainable and fair use of water resources in Mozambique, Switzerland and Zambia. 

Across Switzerland, more than 600 partner companies are already working with WfW to implement corporate social responsibility (CSR) concepts around sustainable and fair water practices. In Zambia, WfW is active in structurally disadvantaged peri-urban areas and is committed to ensuring safe access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) for all and supporting key economic actors (from private, public and third sectors) in their transition to fair water practices. In all three countries, WfW places a strong focus on water-related education and awareness-raising.

Challenge Stages


September 2023

Business, Product and Service Coaching

October 2023

Business Mentorship

January 2024 - December 2024

Product and Service Development

Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) of the Zanaco Green Innovation Challenge. Set yourself up for your application!


Radhia Mtonga

Sustainability Transitions and Innovation Lead at WfW Zambia

Radhia is a dedicated circular economy practitioner with expertise in human-centred design, who is deeply committed to social entrepreneurship and environmental sustainability. Her primary focus lies in finding innovative and people-centric solutions to address Zambia's escalating solid waste management challenges and the pressing climate crisis.