Food security: Six Nigerian entrepreneurs win N120 million in WFP’s innovation challenge

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The Zero Hunger Sprint is a competition calling on Nigeria’s innovators to bring forward concrete ideas that can help find solutions to hunger.

As part of efforts towards achieving zero hunger in Nigeria by 2030, six young Nigerian entrepreneurs have received N120 million to support their ideas.

The beneficiaries, whose innovations are targeted at improving food production, packaging and distribution, among others, were winners of a competition organised by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

The competition was also in partnership with Nigeria’s Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, with support from private investors.

According to a statement issued on Friday by the UN agency, the competition was tagged zero hunger sprint and shared with PREMIUM TIMES by its national communications officer, Kelechi Onyemaobi.

The winners include Jerry Oche, with his Zowasel product, an online marketplace and crop testing service that connects smallholder farmers with premium buyers. He was rewarded with N42 million.

The next big winners were Adepeju Jaiyeoba, Tosin Ayodele and Ayoola Dominic, who won N21 million each.

Ms Jaiyeoba’s Colourful Giggles, described as a natural affordable and readily available baby food company; Mr Ayodele’s Agrorite, a company that helps smallholder farmers to access credit and data-driven advisory services; and Mr Dominic’s Koolboks, an eco-friendly refrigeration solution powered by solar energy and equipped with payment technology, won them the cash prizes.

Meanwhile, Luther Lawoyin’ Principally, a digital food cooperative enabling families or small businesses to share bulk food items or buy food in bulk directly from farmers or wholesalers, and Michael Ogundare’s Crop2cash, which creates reliable credit scores and risk profiles for farmers to unlock finance for improved productivity and income, were rewarded with N10 million and N5 million respectively.

The head of WFP Nigeria’s capacity strengthening and policy coherence unit, Fabienne Moust, described the initiative as a platform for “empowering existing social innovators with additional resources to accelerate their ideas to eliminate hunger in Nigeria.”

In a piece shared on WFP’s website, she said if well handled and supported by stakeholders, “it is our best chance to reach zero hunger by 2030.”

She said; “The Zero Hunger Roundtable is a platform facilitated by WFP Nigeria and the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs in Nigeria, where we bring everyone together — the private sector, development agencies, Government — to look at collective solutions that can contribute to zero hunger in the country. It was created as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it goes way beyond that. There are lots of sustainable solutions needed for Nigeria.

“That became the big thinking behind the Zero Hunger Sprint; a competition calling on Nigeria’s innovators to bring forward concrete ideas that help us find solutions to hunger. Nigeria’s landscape for entrepreneurship is very unique, which is what inspired this initiative.”

Meanwhile, according to WFP’s statement, the funding for the competition was provided by five large corporations “who are passionate in supporting innovative ideas in the food security and nutrition sector, under the zero hunger roundtable.”

The five corporations are listed as Promasidor, Guinness Nigeria, TGI, Nigerian Breweries and Tolaram Group.

Speaking on the innovation, the corporate affairs director of Nigerian Breweries Plc, Sade Morgan, said the sprint pitch confirmed that Nigeria has abundant innovators and young entrepreneurs in the agriculture and food processing sector.

“Nigerian Breweries Plc is committed to supporting the selected start-ups to provide exciting and sustainable solutions that will boost the agricultural value chain in line with our sustainability agenda,” she said.

Also, Promasidor’s chief executive officer, Bruno Gruwez, said his firm is proud to partner WFP on the project, saying; “As a leading food company, this forms part of our efforts to bolster backward integration initiatives and accelerate local food production in Nigeria.”

Earlier, the country director of WFP Nigeria, Paul Howe, said; “What we saw at the Zero Hunger Innovation Sprint was amazing. The pitch showcased the incredible talent, energy and dynamism of young Nigerian entrepreneurs– and the Zero Hunger Roundtable is trying to harness this energy in a way that is socially beneficial and sustainable in addressing hunger challenges.”

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Source: Premium Times

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