The World Food Programme (WFP) in partnership with Outbox Hub, on Wednesday, awarded funding to seven ventures in a competition dubbed ‘WFP Ignite Food Systems Challenge’.
Launched in April, the Challenge sought seven best ventures with the best approaches and innovations that can solve the problem of food insecurity in Uganda.
The challenge welcomed 202 applicants who were shortlisted to final 11 out of which the best seven were voted by the panel judges on Wednesday.
At the grand finale of the challenge held at Serena Hotel, seven winners were announced and these were; Emata Ltd, Awelo Millers & Packers, Smart Foods Ltd, Omia Agribusiness, Akello Banker and Crisgrow Ltd.
Each of the ventures was awarded $50,000 (Shs188 million) which will be provided in tranches over a six-month acceleration period when the ventures will work closely with experts from WFP, Outbox Hub and other partners to develop their concepts further and scale for a maximum impact.
Speaking at the ceremony, the commissioner, Coffee Inspection and Certification at the Ministry of Agriculture, Paul Mwambu, who was also the chief guest applauded WFP and partners for coming up with the challenge that brought on the panel judges set up to listen to potential innovators talk about some of technologies and approaches they have in plan in place to upscale aimed at bringing the situation to zero hunger or improving on food security.
“To us, we think this is great, because we have listened in already from various presenters engaged in solutions aimed at international food security and among these, we will be able, through the judges to come up with the best who will be supported to upscale what they are doing. So, we think this is a great approach,” Mwambu said.
WFP Africa, Deputy Country Director, Marcus Prior said that although providing emergency food system to people in need is WFP’s absolute priority, it is important to bring value and to look at other ends of food systems.
He said helping these kind of initiatives can help over time to strengthen the food systems in Uganda.
He added that the Ignite food system challenge is not only about the seven winners but everyone of the 202 different applicants that contested for the prize.
“Because they were all good ideas, they all had potential and through the process if long listing, shortlisting and now finally having the stage today, there’s been a whole series of networking opportunities, opportunities to learn and to understand; how businesses can scale better and be more sustainable,” Prior said.
The Challenge was made possible through the support of USAID and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.