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UN to harness Africa’s talent for sustainable development

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United Nations


United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has amplified its desire to harness talent, energy and dynamism of young Africans, especially Nigerian entrepreneurs for sustainable development and to address hunger challenges. She noted that its through innovation that the challenges of food insecurity in Nigeria can be tackled.
 
Country Representative, WFP, Paul, Howe speaking at ‘Zero Hunger Sprint Pitch’, said, “when you come into Nigeria you sense the energy, creativity and potential. To be successful in ending hunger, we need to tap into the dynamism of the nation.
 
“We are very much aware that the problems of hunger with conflict, high food prices, Covid-19 are big in Nigeria and we also know that the potential of this society is even bigger and we are hoping to use this event to address this problem.
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“One of the things we want to do with the conference is to make sure that it does not end today as entrepreneurs would get access to funds from investors and mentorship to help them through this process of getting started. We are looking for ideas that young companies have and we hope that these great ideas will be the start of efforts to end hunger,” he said.
 
The five companies involved were, Promasidor, TGI Group, Guiness Nigeria, Nigerian Breweries, Tolaram Group. Chair, Zero Hunger Roundtable and CEO, Tony Elumelu Foundation, Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, noted that WFP created an enabling environment for the pitch, adding that it was a good platform to provide visibility to the 10 finalists.

She stated that for about a decade, food uncertainty has been on an increase with insecurity in the North East and communal conflicts.

According to her, due to the food insecurity, WFP Nigeria in 2020 collaborated with the government and the private sector to convene the Zero hunger roundtable bringing together key actors to address the severe hunger challenges in Nigeria by exploring new ways to eliminate the causes of hunger and contribute Nigeria’s effort to achieve Zero hunger by 2030.

“Through innovation, Nigeria can truly rise up to the challenge of food insecurity. The private sector and entrepreneurs can blaze the trail to achieve Zero hunger in Nigeria by 2030, boost food production by connecting smallholder farmers to markets and accelerate the transformation and consumption of nutritious foods.
 
Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Agri Division, TGI Group, Ramesh Moochikal, noted that capacity of private sector makes the difference as they interact with community.

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“As private sector, we need financially sustainable solutions. The purpose of making the farmer richer is also to help create wealth for ourselves. We have tools and equipment that can help the farmers produce better and at a larger capacity. We need to produce more from less or else we wont win this battle against food scarcity,” he said.
 
They noted that some criteria for the selection included; innovation, replicability, transformative, scalability and ideas that add value.
 
At the end, Zowasel, (an online marketplace and crop testing service that connects smallholder farmers with premium buyers), received N 42million, Clourful Giigles, a natural baby food company working to fight hidden hunger by making baby food affordable and readily available), N21m; Agrorite, (a company which helps smallholder farmers to access credit, data driven advisory services and premium markets) ,N21m; Koolboks, (a company producing eco-friendly and easily accessible refrigeration solutions, powered by solar energy and equipped with Pay-As-You-Go technology), N21m.

Pricepally, a digital food cooperative enabling families or small businesses to share bulk food items among a group or buy food in bulk directly from farmers or wholesalers, making it cheaper and fresher than retail, won N10m and Crop2cash, a company which creates reliable, verifiable credit scores and risk profiles for farmers to unlock much-needed finance to improve their productivity and income, had N5m.
Other startups that pitched were; Releaf, Foodlocker, Chowberry and Ecotutu.

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Paul HoweWFP
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