BusinessDay

Six startups get N120m funding to fight hunger in Nigeria

Six out of the ten startups that pitched for the $ 250,000 cash prize in the United Nations World Food Programme (WEP) ‘Zero Hunger Sprint — Nigeria’s Innovation Challenge’ received funding worth N120 million to help push back hunger in Nigeria’s critical fight to attain the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2, which aims to bring an end to hunger.

Zowasel, a multi-sided marketplace that provides quality crop testing and connects small growers with access to premium buyers with just a few clicks got N42 million; Colourful Giggles, a natural baby food company working to fight hunger and connect affordability with accessibility got N21 Million; Agrorite, provides smallholder farmers access to credits, data driven advisory services and premium markets needed to help them have a successful farming cycle with decent return got N21 Million; Kooboks, a startup that creates affordable alternative solution that is able to generate continuous cooling in the absence of power or irregular power supply got N21 Million; Pricepally, a digital food cooperative enabling families / small businesses share bulk food items among group or buy food in bulk directly from farmers or wholesalers, making it cheaper and fresher than retail got 10 Million and Crop2Cash, a startup that creates trusted, verifiable credit scores and risk profiles for farmers to unlock the much-needed finance that they need to improve their productivity and income, got N5million seed funding to scale their businesses respectively.

The Zero Hunger Roundtable, a multisector partnership of private and public sector players aimed at collectively addressing food challenges to foster innovative approaches to end hunger in Nigeria, leveraging homegrown solutions and talent in tackling global challenges.

Funding for the WFP Zero Hunger Sprint — Nigeria’s Innovation Challenge’ was provided by five Nigerian investor companies, which are Guinness Nigeria, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Promasidor, TGI and the Tolaram Group.

Read also: This is our time to get food systems right

Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, CEO, Tony Elumelu Foundation, in her welcome address at the Zero Hunger Roundtable pitch said, the objective of the roundtable is to come up with tailormade solutions that leverages the unique strength and expertise of a wide range of members.

According to Ugochukwu, Nigeria can rise up to the challenges posed by hunger with innovative ideas driven by the private sector that will ultimately connect smallholder farmers to market and in turn create the needed boost for private sector participation in agribusiness for food security in Nigeria.

Simone Parchment, the WFP deputy country director, said to end hunger in Nigeria by 2030, stakeholders must recognize the dynamism of the problem that is unique to the country’s challenges. Hence, the need to leverage the roundtable initiative in finding practical solutions to hunger in Nigeria.

According to Parchment, the roundtable provides opportunities for talented young people to bring their ideas together with established investors that will provide mentorship and guidance to investment. “…help us find real practical solutions to problems in Nigeria,” he stated.

According to him, between 30 – 90million (about 40%) of Nigeria’s population are at risk of hunger.

“Any solution that will be sustainable has to be an economically viable solution,” said Bruno Growez, CEO, Promasidor. According to him, the investor companies are interested in scalable ideas and solutions that will result in very impactful multiplications for smallholders’ farmers across the country.

Mayank Kabra, the head of treasury at Tolaram Group said, the investors’ interest is geared towards creating successful businesses that will in turn help bring an end to hunger in Nigeria.

“This challenge will act as a bridge connecting private sector investors with start-ups, stimulating innovative solutions geared towards more affordable and accessible food in Nigeria”, says MD Ramesh, Group CEO, Agribusiness, TGI Group.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, food prices have increased more than 22 percent. Inflation, combined with job losses due to the challenges caused by the pandemic and persistent income inequality, continue to aggravate food insecurity and malnutrition in Nigeria.

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