#DisruptFOOD! Inspires Entrepreneurs in Southern Africa

Blog by Masimba Biriwasha, September 18, 2017

Hivos Southern Africa hosted a three day event on 14-16 June, 2017 to launch the collaboration between Hivos, Hivos Impact Investments and Welthungerhilfe in the Hivos Food and Lifestyle Fund. The three day event was divided into three parts that included a press conference, an ideation bootcamp and the official launch itself.

Firstly, a press conference was held at the Harare Press Club on 14 June, 2017 to acquaint journalists on why disrupting food systems in Southern Africa is vital.

Secondly, a boot camp titled #FoodDisrupt was held at the Zimbabwe Agricultural Showgrounds in Harare, Zimbabwe. Thirteen food and lifestyle entrepreneurs from Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe participated in the ideation and pitching bootcamp.

Thirdly, on June 16, 2017 Hivos, Hivos Impact Investments and Welthungerhilfe officially launched their collaboration in the Hivos Food and Lifestyle Fund, an impact investment fund into the food sector in Southern Africa. The official launch integrated a pitching competition to a wider audience and jury by the food and lifestyle entrepreneurs. 

Hivos and Welthungerhilfe have several decades of joint experience in supporting producers, distributors, retailers and consumers in Africa. Their combined projects in Southern Africa have pushed for more inclusive and sustainable food systems and investment opportunities, increasing the social, environmental and economic impact within the agri- food sector.

Hivos is an international organisation that seeks new solutions to persistent global issues. With smart projects in the right places, it opposes discrimination, inequality, abuse of power and the unsustainable use of our planet’s resources.

Welthungerhilfe is one of the largest private aid organisations in Germany; politically independent and non-denominational. It is fighting for “A world without hunger by 2030”. Since its establishment in 1962, more than 8,500 overseas projects in 70 countries have been supported with 3,27 billion euros. Welthungerhilfe works on the principle of help for self-help: from fast disaster relief to reconstruction and long-term development cooperation projects with national and international partner organisations. #ZeroHunger by 2030.

Hivos Impact Investment sets up and manages impact funds and direct investments that align with the humanistic principles of Hivos Foundation in order to support and create more open and green societies. The investment aims to create social impact as well as financial returns. Primarily the investment is in social enterprises, typically SMEs and early stage growth start-ups.

The collaboration between Hivos, Hivos Impact Investments and Welthungerhilfe in the Hivos Food & Lifestyle Fund will see increased support to innovative companies that promote better food systems, a more local and organic food market and/or shorter farm to fork distribution. This fund targets Southern Africa, particularly Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

The press conference held on 14 June, 2017 kickstarted the three day event to launch the collaboration. The press conference held jointly by Hivos and Welthungerhilfe attracted over 40 journalists who had an opportunity to engage in an open dialogue on the state of food and why disrupting food systems matters in Southern Africa. The aim of the press conference was to spark media interest in sustainable food related issues.

From 14-15 June, 2017, Hivos, Welthungerhilfe and Hivos Impact Investments conducted a Disrupt! Food! Ideation bootcamp targeted at 13 entrepreneurs from Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The 13 entrepreneurs represented the following companies: Moringa Miracles and Tree Crops from Malawi; Umgibe Farming from South Africa; Farmers’ Basket, Sylva Foods and Zambezi Pineapples from Zambia; Feso, Hutano Foods, Kaza Natural Oils, Sweet Maungwe, Shift Organic Technologies, Tafadzwa neChiedza, Zim Earthworm Farms and from Zimbabwe. During the boot camp entrepreneurs prepared to pitch their companies to potential investors. The Disrupt! Food! bootcamp employed the design thinking process to get the entrepreneurs to shape the narratives of their businesses. In particular, the entrepreneurs engaged in introspection on the social value propositions of their business ideas and models.  

On 16 June 2017, Hivos, Hivos Impact Investments and Welthungerhilfe officially launched their collaboration in the Food and Lifestyle fund. The launch themed: Disrupt! Food! attracted approximately 200 people including NGOs, businesses, policy makers and interested individuals.  Hivos’ CEO, Edwin Huizing, and Welthungerhilfe CEO, Till Wahnbaeck, officially launched the collaboration and emphasized the importance of entrepreneurship in development work.

At the launch, the food and lifestyle entrepreneurs pitched their ideas in front of a jury of 4 experts. The jury used the following criteria to judge the pitches: strength of the business case, potential for social impact and level of innovation. After each pitch the jury provided feedback to the entrepreneurs. After all entrepreneurs pitched their ideas the jury came to a verdict. All the entrepreneurs received a certificate of participation in the two day Disrupt! Food! bootcamp.

Shift Organic Technologies emerged as the Most Innovative Business. Umgibe Farming emerged as the business with High Social Impact. Zambezi Pineapples emerged as the business with Strongest Business Case.

Overall, the press conference, ideation bootcamp, and the official launch were largely a success that positioned both Hivos and Welthungerhilfe as leading organizations using innovation to find new solutions to old problems in the food sector in Southern Africa.

"This article was originally published on Hivos Southern Africa Click here to view the original article"