West and East Africa entrepreneurs shine at the Africa and Asia nutrition competition
Entrepreneurs from Nigeria and Tanzania running innovative businesses to address malnutrition emerged winners in this year’s SUN Pitch Competition organised by the SUN Business Network. 21 finalists has earlier been selected through a rigorous series of national and virtual competitions, from an over 500 SMEs from 24 countries that entered.
Oluwaseun Sangoleye, the founder of Baby Grubz Nigeria, was crowned the winner and champion.
Her social enterprise processes all-natural cereals for children under 5 years to tackle malnutrition, with a special focus on authentic African tastes made from locally sourced ingredients. Baby Grubz’s products are sold through women-only sales and distribution model, a deliberate approach for gender inclusion and empowerment.
The second runners up prize of $7,000 was presented to Mealimeter, also from Nigeria.
Mealimeter links hospitals, offices and schools with nutritious meals by providing food vending machines, and connecting customers with the country’s best nutrition-focused chefs and small businesses through a mobile app. “Thank you to all the sponsors and thank you so much to SBN and GAIN for putting this together – we are excited, and now it’s time to get back to work to get nutritious food to every single Nigerian,” states Adekunle Jinadu, the entrepreneur behind the company.
“What interested me about Mealimeter is that they have been able to grow their business even under the current COVID-19 situation,” declared judge Charlotte Pedersen of Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, GAIN.
Tanzania entrepreneur Jolenta Joseph, the founder of Sanavita, was named the winner of the GAIN, Food Technology Innovation Prize and AGREA mentorship prize for providing food technology innovations that create food solutions that are affordable, safe and tasty and demonstrating innovation, creativity, value addition and impact in her pitch.
Sanavita was launched in March 2019 with the goal of addressing malnutrition in Tanzania, by focusing on hidden hunger. Using solar dryers, Sanavita produces and processes crops with high micronutrient contents. Among its products include orange fleshed sweet potatoes which can provide the full recommended dietary allowance of vitamin A, pro vitamin A maize which provides up to 25% of the recommended dietary allowance and high iron and zinc beans which provide up to 50% of the recommended dietary allowance of iron required by pregnant women.
“What I like with Sanavita is their use of solar dryers, this preserves the nutrients of the product so this is pretty exciting and innovative,” announced judge Cherrie Atilano, CEO of AGREA.
Danish Care Foods (DCF) from Cambodia was awarded US$10,000 as the first runner up. DCF specialises in making ready-to-use therapeutic and supplementary food products, including wafer snacks, to treat malnutrition in children. Its unique product range incorporates only locally-available ingredients, including wild-caught fish, and is affordable for low-income consumers.
“DCF had a very interesting and innovative product – highly nutritious and using local ingredients. Also, with their product, they can replace imports, which is an additional benefit for countries to make sure they add local value,” explained Royal DSM judge Fokko Wientjes. “Winning is awesome! It is a great feeling to see how hard work and dedication pays off. This award will help us to further strengthen our business,” says DCF founder Lyndon Paul.
Additional cash prizes of US$10,000, and mentorship packages, were awarded by the pitch competition sponsors. The Royal DSM 3A Nutrition Award was won by Limpho Produtos Alimentares from Mozambique. “It is a young team who are turning broken rice, a waste product, into a nutritious product. That is what we need,” said Fokko encouragingly.
To help meet the nutritional needs of low-income consumers in Mozambique, Octávio Muchanga set up Limpho Produtos Alimentares to process and distribute highly-nutritious food at low prices. He is now looking to launch new a new line of nutritious biscuit products, turning broken rice into fortified rice flour high in fibre, vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6, as well as iron and zinc. “It’s a privilege. We will get so much information from DSM that we will be able to develop our business and keep providing solutions,” says Octávio Muchanga. “We can do more to make sure we continue to produce nutritious food for our country.”
The Cargill Prize for Innovations to Enable Access to Improved Nutrition was awarded to Poulta Inc from Pakistan. “Cargill is a big player in the world and in dealing with poultry in particular, so this is very good news for Poulta,” Ali Murtaza Solangi said in reaction to winning this prize. His SME has embraced technologies including blockchain, artificial intelligence and internet-of-things to disrupt the poultry industry by establishing a data-driven monitoring system for industry-wide use. “I really like Poulta, from looking at the innovation to the way they use the tech throughout the whole supply chain,” enthused Charlotte.
Speaking on the wider ambitions of the competition, Jonathan Tench, Global SUN Business Network Coordinator said: “The SUN Business Network aims to increase the availability and affordability of safe, nutritious foods for low-income consumers across Africa and Asia. SMEs provide most of the food that reaches these consumers which is why we focus on supporting the businesses, like the competition’s finalists, to pitch their best innovations to investors and grow their businesses – and their impact on nutrition.’’
The profiles of the winners and other Africa and Asia finalists can be found on the SUN Pitch Competition website, along with more information on sponsors and partners here
For more information on Africa and Asia’s progress and challenges in overcoming malnutrition see the Global Nutrition Report
2020 SUN Pitch Competition winners and prizes:
Overall Winner – Baby Grubz, US$20,000 plus BoP mentorship prize
1st runner up – DCF, US$10,000
2nd runner up – Mealimeter, US$7,000
GAIN Food Technology Innovation Prize – Limpho Produtos Alimentares, US$10,000
Cargill Innovation to Enable Access to Good Nutrition Prize – Poulta, US$10,000
GAIN Food Technology Innovation Prize – Sanavita, US$10,000
AGREA Mentorship Prize – Sanavita