The World Food Programme (WFP) has launched the IGNITE Food Systems Challenge to foster locally-driven solutions to tackle food system challenges in Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan.

With a U.S.$2million fund from USAID, the initiative, according to WFP, will provide technical support to startups, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and cooperatives to scale up their solutions.

It is understood that the programme seeks innovative solutions that contribute to food security in areas such as resilience to shocks and stress, access to safe and nutritious food, improved food supply chains, the empowerment of smallholder farmers, and the advancement of food security for all.

Selected SMEs, it was gathered, will receive grants of up to U.S.$50,000 as well as a six-month acceleration support, including connections to experts, mentors and partners, and other tailored support to address business gaps.

World Bank data shows that economic stagnation as a result of a protracted crisis has left 82 percent of South Sudan’s population in poverty, with more than six million in crisis-level food insecurity and over three million displaced.

In Rwanda, SMEs account for about 98 percent of businesses and 41 percent of private sector employment, according to the International Trade Centre (ITC).

World Vision has also noted that food security is a problem for many people in Rwanda, with 51 percent of households having experienced difficulty in accessing sufficient food.

According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, 361,000 people are estimated to be experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity at crisis level or worse in Uganda.

Also, data from the International Journal of Technology and Management shows that SMEs in Uganda are the number one employers and contributors to GDP.

‘The biggest challenge for many entrepreneurs in Eastern Africa is not only access to funding, but also technical support that furthers their concepts’, the head of the WFP IGNITE Innovation Hub for Eastern Africa, Jeremie Pigé, said in a statement.

‘Through this generous support by USAID, we are confident that we will be able to reach many bright and talented entrepreneurs in the region who might have been left behind’.

WFP IGNITE Innovation Hub for Eastern Africa was launched in December 2020, with help from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, to develop, nurture and scale sustainable innovations for increased food security in the region.

Source: WFP

Photo source: WUSME


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