GIZ | Solution Challenge: Was It Worth It?

Recently, we concluded the first GIZ Call for Solutions. Our aim: Strengthening business exchange between refugees and host communities.

Here’s the Bottom Line: What Has Worked – And What Hasn’t.

The Soap Team
Of three tested solutions, one team has succeeded in setting up ongoing business operations. That is due to a strong team leader, comprehensive knowledge about the solution and a good market demand for the solution. The soap team is currently producing and selling soap at a small but self-sustaining scale, but would need to grow to create a substantial economic impact for themselves.

The Biogas Team
After unsuccessfully pursuing the business opportunity for biogas as well as bio-fertilizer in their communities, the biogas team realized their business is not viable in the long-term, considering the low rate of production under the given weather conditions with the chosen technological solution.

The AgRover Team
Despite the strong business potential of transport services offered by the AgRover team in the refugee camp to deliver goods, the team was challenged by technical maintenance, repair and availability of spare parts and had to discontinue their service.

Our Learnings: Though all solutions and teams were confronted with different challenges, it is obvious that business potential alone does not guarantee success in local adaptation. It takes a strong team, perseverance and a solid execution strategy to turn good solutions into flourishing local businesses.

Call for Solutions: Quickly Dive into Real Market Conditions

With only one out of three teams operating a small-scale business operation, it’s time to ask: ‘Was it worth it?‘. We’d like to say: ‘Definitely!‘.

From an innovation perspective, the essential benefit of the approach outweighs its failures: Discovering and testing solutions using little time or resources.

  • A Call for Solutions allows you to identify global solutions to a specific challenge quickly and effectively. We gained knowledge and awareness not only on the three solutions that our Jury selected to test in Rwanda, but also many more high-potential solutions that merit further testing and exploration in other contexts.
  • Through adaptation and testing, a Call for Solutions forces you to learn about the solutions, their performance, success factors in practice and – last but not at all least – team and start-up constellations and capabilities. While implementing the three winning solutions in Rwanda, we learned about their market potential, based on real numbers and their practicability for local teams in a real-life scenario. This knowledge will help us to iterate on the solutions in Rwanda and elsewhere.

Call for Solutions: It’s Your Turn!

Are you thinking of launching your own Call for Solutions? Great! Take advantage of our experience and download our GIZ Call for Solutions GIZ toolkit now (PDF).

We believe the Call for Solutions can be valuable in addressing a multitude of challenges in international development. We have developed this detailed toolkit that helps you to use our approach for your own topics and challenges.

If you are interested in conducting a Call for Solutions or learning from our experience, feel free to reach out to us ( |!

Call for Solutions: A Recap

Aug. 2018 |
We launched our first global GIZ Call for Solutions. Answering our call, we received more than 100 submission of potential solutions out of which a high-caliber jury selected the three most promising and innovative ones.

Jan. 2019 |
At the Innovation Lab in Rwanda, we started to adapt the three winning solutions – the AgRover, Biogas Trade and Soap Making – to the local context in Rwanda.

Jan.-Mar. 2019 |
For two months, local teams – eager to build businesses around these solutions – led the adaptation process. They worked on the basis of user research and prototyping, transforming their solutions into potentially viable business models.

Mar. 2019 |
At the Local Investors Pitch the final business models were critically assessed against local demand and profitability. Seed money was released for the local teams to be able to start-up real businesses.

Apr.-Nov. 2019 |
During a market test, the local teams started running their business operations continually for 8 months. This way, the teams were put to a test if their business models could sustainably operate and improve their economic resilience.

Learn more

Source: GIZ Calll for Solutions, 18 December 2019