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November 15, 2021

The DFCD Climate Challenge Final




About the event

This year, the Dutch Fund for Climate and Development (DFCD) launched the Scalable Climate Solutions Challenge. With the aim of finding scalable climate projects in Bangladesh, Kenya and Uganda.

In total 118 businesses applied and participated in this challenge, with only one proposal per country being selected. At COP26 the final top 3 projects were introduced to the world. Each of the top 3 businesses did their very best to convince a jury of experts, to allocate an additional €100.000 Consultation and Capacity Development grant.

The event was live at COP26 on Thursday 11 November when the challenge finalists pitched their climate proposals to the audience online and in Glasgow (UK). During this event an expert panel decided and announced which of the three finalists will receive the Consultation and Capacity Development grant to boost their climate impact!

‍The finalists

The finalist companies were; SoKo Fresh (Kenya), Ispahani Agro (Bangladesh) and Mandulis Energy (Uganda). According to the predefined challenge criteria, the DFCD Investment Committee selected and approved all three finalists. The three finalists received the allocated grant funding for their climate solution.

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The expert panelists

On Thursday 11 November, a team of experts from FMO, WWF, SNV and CFM was examining the selected businesses and awarded one of them an additional €100.000 Consultation and Capacity Development grant to further boost the winning project.

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The Expert panel consisted of Jorim Schraven, Director Impact and ESG at FMO, Charlotte Floore, Project Manager DFCD at WWF, Tigere Muzenda, Regional Investment Officer, SSA for DFCD at SNV, and Andrew Johnstone, Director and chief executive officer at CFM.

About the winner

After a rigorous selection process, months of coaching and mentorship, weeks of pitch sessions and a final pitch to a jury of experts live from COP26 in Glasgow, the winner of the Climate Solutions Challenge has been selected.

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Mandulis came out as the winner, announced by the DFCD consortium members at the end of the session which brought together 230+ attendees both at COP26 in Glasgow as online.

  • Specialized in transforming agricultural residues into cooking fuel and electricity, Mandulis Energy’s solution won over the jury of experts from SNV, FMO, WWF, and CMF thanks to a clear business case and proven results for rural communities in Uganda.
  • Peter Nyeko managing director of Mandulis Energy, began in Uganda where his company pioneered private sector led deployment of on-grid and off-grid renewable energy infrastructure. [link]
  • “Its been an incredible experience being part of this challenge. And I want to thank especially my parents and my grandmother. I am quite emotional actually..”
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While Mandulis Energy managing director, Peter Nyeko, managed to convince the “shark tank”-inspired panel, the two other entrepreneurs in the running also stood out: out of over 100+ applications, theirs were the ones to grab the jury’s attention based on the criteria of this challenge.

  • Ispahani Agro, represented by entrepreneur Fawzia Yasmeen, supports farmers in Bangladesh by developing drought and salt resistant seeds and bio pesticides. [link]
  • SoKoFresh, represented by entrepreneur Denis Karema, makes solar powered and mobile cold storages for small holder farmers in Kenya. [link]
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"It's really amazing to see what these projects have achieved already. Our aim is to give support and push the entrepreneur and their business to the next level, scale-up and enable even more impact."

Results Announcement

The finalists participated via Zoom, as the results were being announced.

"It's really amazing to see what these projects have achieved already. Our aim is to give support and push the entrepreneur and their business to the next level, scale-up and enable even more impact."

Aart Mulder - Portfolio Manager Climate, Fund Manager Dutch Fund for Climate & Development

The companies, which have already secured funding from the consortium, were competing not just for an additional check, but to also benefit from the consortium’s climate venture capital expertise. Mandulis Energy, the winner, walks away with this valuable asset which will serve them in scaling to the next level.

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For the consortium, this first experience is a success. With an imperative to scale climate finance to all relevant stakeholders including entrepreneurs, but also a lack of investable adaptation projects, the DFCD saw a gap to fill and add value, supporting these promising initiatives through the uncertain phase where mainstream investors looking for low risk and high returns rarely venture.

At COP 26, the programme demonstrates the importance of building pipelines of investable initiatives and unlocking private sector investment in adaptation and resilience solutions in regions which attract less private capital.

What is the DFCD?

The DFCD is a €160 million fund, founded by the The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to increase the resilience of communities and ecosystems most vulnerable to climate change. The DFCD forms an important additional instrument for the Dutch government’s efforts in contributing to the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It has the ambition of attracting around €500 million in public and private funding. A pioneering consortium of FMO (the Dutch Entrepreneurial Development Bank), WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature), SNV (Foundation of Netherlands Volunteers) and CFM (Climate Fund Managers), is managing this fund.

More information?

If you want to know more about the DFCD and the Scalable Climate Solutions Challenge, visit

Written By


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