Six entrepreneurs win N120M in zero hunger competition

Children queuing for food

Six entrepreneurs have won a total of N120 million in cash prizes from this year’s ‘Zero Hunger Sprint – Nigeria’s Innovation Challenge’, held in Lagos, last Friday.

The World Food Programme (WFP) Nigeria, explains that the competition aims to foster innovative approaches to end hunger, championed by Nigeria’s entrepreneurs.

Commenting, Country Director, 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.”

Announcing the winners statement today (Friday), WFP said the six entrepreneurs, including men and women, received cheques totalling N120 million to support their start-ups in cash awards varying from N5 million to N42 million.

In addition to the cash awards, the start-ups will also receive mentorship from the investor companies and participate in a six-months’ Sprint Programme designed by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

The winning innovative entrepreneurs and the amounts they received are listed as:

Jerry Oche: ZOWASEL (an online marketplace and crop testing service that connects smallholder farmers with premium buyers): N42 million;

Adepeju Jaiyeoba: COLOURFUL GIGGLES (a natural baby food company working to fight hidden hunger by making baby food affordable and readily available): N21 million;

Tosin Ayodele: AGRORITE (a company which helps smallholder farmers to access credit, data driven advisory services and premium markets): N21 million;

Ayoola Dominic: KOOLBOKS (a company producing eco-friendly and easily accessible refrigeration solutions, powered by solar energy and equipped with Pay-As-You-Go technology): N21 million;

Luther Lawoyin: 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): N10 million, and

Michael Ogundare: 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): N5 million.

The statement reads further: “The initiative and the backing it receives help to support and contribute to Nigeria’s own efforts at achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 – which aims to bring an end to hunger.”

It adds that “The funding for the first Zero Hunger Sprint in Nigeria 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: Promasidor; Guinness Nigeria; TGI Group; Nigerian Breweries and Tolaram Group.”

Stakeholders and programme sponsors agreed that food production is one of the means of boosting sustainable development in Nigeria.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Tony Elumelu Foundation, Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, was quoted as saying: “It is only through innovation that we can truly rise up to the challenges of food insecurity in Nigeria. Through innovation, therefore, these private sector investors and entrepreneurs can blaze the trail to achieve Zero Hunger in Nigeria by 2030 through innovations that will boost food production and accelerate the transformation and consumption of nutritious food.”

Similarly, Corporate Affairs Director, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Sade Morgan, said: “The Zero Hunger Sprint Pitch confirmed that we have in Nigeria 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.”

While the Managing Director, Tropical General Investments (TGI) Group Nigeria, Kumar Ramesh, said: “Attracting youth into the industry of food production and agriculture is an imperative to get new energy and ideas in the sector. Such an initiative hosted by WFP is a huge attraction for youth participation across genders. We are very impressed by the quality of talent we saw.”

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.

The Corporate Relations Director, Guinness Nigeria Plc, Rotimi Odusola, was quoted: “The most inclusive and diverse culture makes for better business and a better world; this continues to drive our passion to support initiatives such as the Zero Hunger Sprint which have the potential to give leverage to smallholder farmers, especially women and differently-abled people in under- served communities across Nigeria.”

On his part, CEO, Promasidor, Bruno Gruwez, said: “We are proud to partner with WFP in the Zero Hunger Sprint in Nigeria. As a leading food company, this forms part of our efforts to bolster backward integration initiatives and accelerate local food production in Nigeria.”

The CEO, Tolaram Group West Africa, Pawan Sharma, “The incredible pitches from the entrepreneurs were truly impressive and we look forward to partnering with them in a socially and commercially beneficial manner while addressing hunger- related challenges in the country.”

The Zero Hunger Roundtable is a multi-sector forum aimed at collectively addressing food challenges as a part of the UN’s global mandate to achieve Zero Hunger by the year 2030.

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