The first ever Nutrition Africa Investment Forum (NAIF) was concluded this week by the announcement of the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Pitch Competition winner in Nairobi.
The forum, organised by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and Royal DSM, sought to drive investment into nutrition on the continent by linking up investors with nutrition-focused SMEs. Acting as a broker, the forum highlighted $82m worth of investment opportunity in the sector and fielded a hugely successful deal-room which was oversubscribed by investors on the sidelines of panel discussions.
In keeping with the focus on maximising impact by scaling SMEs through investment, a number of awards were presented to small firms in the early stages of financing who demonstrated the ability to provide profitable solutions in the nutrition space. Fokko Wientjes, Vice-President of Nutrition in Emerging Markets, Royal DSM, opened the awards by saying: “The panelists had an extremely challenging afternoon choosing from 21 extremely good candidates from different parts of Africa. What we have seen is the critical role of innovation and scaling for SMEs in the food industry which proves that this conference is necessary and meeting a need.”
Contestants presented companies from across the nutrition supply chain ranging from food manufacturers, processors and aggregators to e-commerce. Nigeria, Mozambique, Malawi, Kenya, Ethiopia and Zambia were all represented. Enterprises were judged on four criteria: nutrition impact, commercial viability, scale and innovation. Kennie-O Cold Chain Logistics won the SUN Pitch Competition for providing transport and storage solutions for perishable food in Nigeria. These efforts have helped strengthen local supply chains and convincingly counter post-harvest losses, which are anywhere up to 50% in Africa’s largest economy. “I believe this is just the beginning,” reveled founder Ope Olanrewaju. “We will not relent and by next year I’m sure you will hear good reports coming from Kennie-O.”
Along with the public-acclamation, Olanrewaju is also set to receive $15,000 in technical assistance along with trips to Switzerland, the Netherlands and Asia to engage with other nutrition-champions under the mentorship of the Sun Business Network who sponsor the prize.