EAST AFRICA – Seven East African agrifood tech focused small and medium enterprises (SMEs) based in Kenya and Rwanda, have been named as the first cohorts of the Good Food Innovation Fund managed by Intellecap Advisory Services.

Launched in 2021 with a US$ 5 million grant from The Rockefeller Foundation, the Good Food Innovation Fund supports SMEs to expand access to nutritious and affordable food across sub-Saharan Africa while mitigating barriers such as high prices, consumer preferences, and unfavorable policies.

To this end the fund has dished out support of between US$ 100,000 to US$200,000 each to the seven selected enterprises, totalling over US$ 1 million that has been slated for the first round.

The SMEs include Fibered Fresh Partners, Keep it Cool, Sanku Kenya Ltd, Shalem Investments, and Smart Logistics Solutions from Kenya and Rwanda based Agri Farmer Centre Ltd (Agriface) and Muteesa Company Ltd

According to the fund, they were selected from among 144 applicants who participated in the round that was focused on promoting nutritious, regenerative, and equitably produced and distributed food through schools and other institutional feeding programs.

One of the recipients, Agriface, will work with its distributors to provide fortified wholegrain maize flour to school children through the government’s school feeding program in Rwanda.

It is also promoting equitable production and distribution systems by sourcing directly from farmers while paying fair prices for their produce.

Smart Logistics Solutions, another award recipient, is a Kenyan enterprise leading in production of nutrient dense foods that are beans based.

They have developed a variety of bean-based products such as noodles, and fortified porridges using beans fortified with iron and zinc.

Designing such products ensure that the children and youth can enjoy foods that are attractive to them but are more nutritious and affordable.

With the additional financing they will be able to reach an additional 20 schools and 25 hospitals.

“African businesses have a vital role to play in making sure that people, especially in low-income communities, have to access nutritious and affordable food,” said Mehrdad Ehsani, Vice President at The Rockefeller Foundation.

“Supporting them will improve efficiencies along the food supply chain, reduce the cost of production, increase their competitiveness, and enable them to reach to low-income populations with nutritious food.”

The launch of the fund was timely as in 2021, more than 282 million Africans were undernourished, and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict have fueled further food price hikes—making access to affordable food even more difficult and threatening to send millions more into hunger.

“The Fund is a novel way for SMEs to improve access to affordable and nutritious foods. We are excited to work with these selected enterprises.

“We are eager to help discover and transform their innovative ideas into real benefits for health and nutrition of low-income communities across Africa, while strengthening the ecosystem for good food,” said Karnika Yadav, Partner & Director – Africa, Intellecap.

The Good Food Innovation Fund will launch its second innovation call in October 2022. This call will target innovations in vertically integrated value chains with distribution and retail, harvest and post-harvest, processing, distribution, and logistics, and will cover the additional countries of Ghana and Benin.

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