FAQ – Beyond Tourism in Africa


What is the innovation challenge all about?

Beyond Tourism in Africa is a space for innovative ideas that are urgently needed to allow people to live in harmony with nature. There is a clear need to diversify revenue beyond  tourism as the only income stream. This is true for local communities as well as for many conservation initiatives. In many countries in Africa, communities are sustainably managing their natural resources and contributing significantly to global conservation efforts. However, these efforts are primarily dependent on tourism, including trophy hunting, to generate the necessary income to do so. New approaches are needed to enable communities to earn critical income and other benefits while also maintaining wildlife sustainably. 

What do you mean when you refer to ‘wildlife’? Is this only about animals?

We use the term ‘wildlife’ in a broad sense that includes wild animals and plants. We encourage creative thinking, so ideas that apply to this challenge may focus on animals or any other aspect of the natural world. 

What is the objective of this call? Is it improving community livelihoods? Or is it protecting wildlife? Or improving conditions for wildlife and natural resources?

This call has two interlinked objectives: to improve both community livelihoods and the conditions for wildlife and natural resources to thrive. An essential condition to improve livelihoods is to generate the financial means to enable communities to manage their wildlife, to obtain benefits that exceed the costs of living alongside wildlife (ex: trampled crops, killed livestock and even death), and so to continue choosing to live alongside wildlife and/or natural resources rather than converting natural habitats to other uses. There are many different ways to improve the conditions for wildlife and natural resources: restoring or protecting wildlife (fauna and flora), using natural resources in sustainable ways (land, forests, water, energy, minerals, etc) or reducing waste and emissions are a few examples. This objective could also include conserving a pristine environment, such as maintaining the forest cover in an area.

How can I be sure that my project improves conditions for wildlife and natural resources? What are the criteria for judging this element of the challenge?

As this challenge is co-organised by WWF, this element is very important for us and we want to set a high standard. It would not be enough to come up with a business idea that generates income and other benefits for communities and does not harm the environment. The idea must have an ambition to improve the current conditions for wildlife and natural resources. Your idea will be judged on the ambition you set out and whether it is feasible.

Why is this only about Africa?

This innovation challenge has a focus on Africa, as it is the focus of work of two of the partnering organisations (African Leadership University’s School of Wildlife Conservation and WWF Regional Office for Africa). However, we aim to find ideas that have the potential to be replicated in other parts of the world. 

Why are you holding the challenge now?

Each of the partnering organisations had been future-planning for the wildlife conservation of tomorrow before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. We had begun exploring opportunities to diversify revenue streams for community-led conservation to reduce reliance on all forms of tourism. The breakdown of the tourism industry as a result of COVID-19 has highlighted the over-dependence on tourism and accelerated our efforts. The wider public has seen firsthand how a singular dependence on tourism revenue can have disastrous consequences for livelihoods and conservation actions in many countries around the world. The risk of over-dependence also applies to conservation initiatives that are largely funded by revenues from ecotourism.

Can I apply alone, as a team or both? 

You may apply as an individual, or as team of up to three people. 

My team includes more than 3 people. Why can’t we apply?

The ALU incubation programme can accommodate teams of up to 3 people. If more people around you want to engage, you can form more than one team, with different ideas.

Can my organisation apply?

No. Only physical persons are eligible for the challenge, as the winners will receive places on the African Leadership University’s incubation programme and this programme is only open to persons rather than organisations. 

If you or someone from your organisation is interested in winning a place on the incubation programme, and have an idea that fits the criteria of the challenge, you are welcome to apply as an individual, or a team of up to three people. 

Why does my idea need to be ‘high-growth’? Shouldn’t it focus on a specific community?

We are looking for ideas that ultimately can generate returns at the scale of tourism (which includes trophy hunting). The reason is that if communities do not benefit from wildlife, they are likely to shift to unsustainable alternatives, such as large scale cropping, livestock management and other non-wildlife-friendly land uses, with irreparable consequences for natural areas. A key problem with many ideas is that they are not scalable. By ‘scalable’ we mean replicable in other locations or having the potential to become a high-growth business. So the idea either needs to have growth potential at the same place, or be a model for somewhere else. We encourage people to think big and more long-term. 

How can a project be simultaneously connected to a local community but also scalable to communities around the world? 

It may well be that the same idea could be replicated elsewhere with adjustments for different local contexts and requirements. For example, the concept of payment for ecosystem services is used in different geographies, with different services and contexts. 

Is this challenge mainly focused on southern and eastern Africa, or the whole of Africa?

The challenge is aimed at improving livelihoods for rural communities that live adjacent to wildlife across the whole continent of Africa.

Who are the judges?

All eligible applications will be evaluated by a panel of experts from the partnering organisations and key external experts with a track record in business development.

What are the judging criteria?

Ideas will be judged based on the five selection criteria outlined in the Application Details section of the challenge homepage. These criteria are reflected by eight detailed questions on the application form. Each of the five criteria is of equal importance. Diversity, gender inclusivity and social equity should be guiding principles for all successful ideas.

What happens to my idea if it is not chosen? Do you keep the rights to my idea?

The intellectual property rights to your idea remain with you. Only the reviewers will read your submission. Please refer to our terms and conditions for further details. 

Why are communities mentioned so often in this call? 

Communities play an essential role in the conservation of nature. An estimated 65% of the world is under some form of community governance and/or management (Rights and Resources Initiative, 2015); some estimate this coincides with areas holding 80% of the planet’s biodiversity (WWF, 2019). There are many successful examples of community-based conservation in Africa, where human wellbeing and the state of nature have both been improved through sustainable community management. However, the existing examples are primarily reliant on tourism.

I don’t have much/any experience in the environment sector. Can I still apply?

Yes, please do! We encourage people from all sectors to apply. Ideally, you have a team of people with backgrounds in different sectors. If you apply as an individual, before submitting your idea, you should aim to consult with people who can give you advice on aspects of the application that may be outside of your own expertise.

I have an idea relating to virtual/digital tourism. Can I apply?

Yes. Beyond Tourism in Africa excludes every form of tourism that requires the physical presence of the tourist in the destination. However, if you have an idea relating to virtual or digital tourism that does not require people to travel to a destination, please apply. 

Will you accept tech-based ideas for scalable tech companies?

Technology-based solutions will be considered. In your application, ensure that you explain how compatible the technology is with the target community. As with all ideas, we are keen to know whether the local community has played a role in the design of the solution. 

How many ideas will be chosen/awarded?

Between five and 15. 

How much seed money will be awarded to winning ideas?

During the incubation programme, participants might receive a grant of up to US$10,000 from the organisers as early seed money. 

How can I access funding through this challenge? 

The purpose of this challenge is not direct funding. Rather, the challenge seeks to find and incubate new ideas. The selected applicants will receive places on the African Leadership University’s incubation programme and access to seed money during this programme. If you have an idea that fits the criteria of the challenge, and are interested in incubating this idea into a viable business with the help of professionals during an eight-month, online study programme, please apply.

Will there be any second/third/runner-up awards?

Between five and 15 successful ideas will be chosen, and all of these will receive the same awards: a place in the African Leadership University’s incubation programme and access to seed money. There are no further awards beyond this.


What does the African Leadership University’s incubation programme entail?

The ALU School of Wildlife Conservation Incubator Programme is an 8-month part-time and virtual experience that supports teams with innovative and impactful ideas for wildlife conservation. Using our unique model, this programme transforms your ideas into a viable business. 

Through our incubator, we support high-potential entrepreneurs with a drive to transform Africa through impactful and ethical ventures. For this particular cohort, our focus is on community-led, innovative and impactful ideas that derive income from wildlife and manage natural resources sustainably.

Our programme provides access to life-long learning and a community of peers, mentors and potential investors. At the end of the programme, all participants would be expected to successfully launch a venture with the opportunity for potential investment.

When does the programme commence?

The programme begins on Monday, 1 February 2021.

What are the main courses of the programme?

Our programme has three main modules: (1) Evaluating your Idea, (2) Building a Solution, and (3) Preparing for Launch. Below is a sneak peek into our programme structure:

What is the time commitment of the programme?

Each participant is expected to commit 3-5 hours weekly for the duration of the programme.

Do I need to attend the programme in person?

No. The programme is fully online and includes resources shared via a learning management system (a combination of articles and videos for participants to go through); live sessions with peers, mentors, and experts; and engagement activities (e.g. forum discussions, demo pitches, and peer feedback sessions).

In any given week, all these activities should take an average of 4 hours. This programme is designed such that participants spend more time actually building their ideas than going through content.

If a team is chosen, do all members of the team attend the programme together or just the team leader?

The whole team attends the programme, whether individually for a team of one, or together for teams of two or three. For this reason, teams can have a maximum of three people.

What happens after the programme finishes?

There will be a demo day to close out the programme. Successful teams will have the opportunity to compete for $10,000 in seed funding and pitch their idea to a group of investors. 

More questions?

For specific questions regarding the ALU incubator, please contact:

Go back to the Beyond Tourism in Africa homepage.