On 11 February 2020, the Africa Food30 Accelerator Project was officially launched in Zambia by Finnish Ambassador to Zambia H.E. Pirjo Suomela-Chowdhury and Ministry of Commerce, Trade, and Industry Permanent Secretary Mr Musuma Mulenga. The National Technology Business Centre (NTBC), which is the SAIS Focal Point in Zambia, was also represented
Attended by over 87 stakeholders, including key partner organisations, media, and 24 participating companies on the Africa Food360 Accelerator, the launch was a significant highlight and remarkable achievement to Zambia’s sustainable agriculture and inclusive innovation ecosystem.
Prior to the launch, 24 female-led agricultural enterprise companies were selected to the Africa Food360 Accelerator cohort through a rigorous vetting process, ranging from sub-sectors such as agro-forestry, aqua-culture, livestock, seed replication, legumes, clean energy. etc.
To kick-start the project and as a build-up to the launch, Brilliant Entrepreneurs (BE) of the Netherlands, a project member of the Africa Food360, hosted the first accelerator training with WECREATE at Agco Future Farm. In a separate training, Kapture Creative, a South African-based Africa Food360 project member, hosted the first digital storytelling training for 10 young art photography creatives that will be supporting digital documentation and digital profiling on the project.
During the launch, selected companies pitched their businesses and caught the attention of Ambassador H.E. Pirjo Suomela-Chowdhury. This was quite clear in her remarks as she shared her excitement and desire to see more Zambian companies access business opportunities and gain exposure nationally and beyond. “It will be exciting to see the impact that women farmers and entrepreneurs in cooperation with the Southern African Innovation Support Program (SAIS), WECREATE, and project partners will be able to produce,” she said. “These efforts could prove groundbreaking. Bringing together agriculture, business, and innovation can be a game changer for nutrition, climate change, employment, and livelihoods, and Finland is very pleased to be part of such efforts through the SAIS project, which is a unique instrument funded by the Government of Finland.”
The Government of Zambia, through the Ministry of Commerce, expressed gratitude to the Ministry of Foreign affairs of Finland (MFA) for supporting this great initiative through SAIS 2. Mr Mulenga, Permanent Secretary at MCTI, commended WECREATE and the Africa Food360 project members for leading the inclusive innovation transformation agenda through this project not only in Zambia but throughout SADC.
Africa Food360 is an inclusive innovation project focusing on empowering women-owned agro-based businesses to scale innovation and improve delivery while creating social impact on rural based out-grower communities. The project aims to inclusively address the current challenges of Africa's food systems in the area of nutrition, climate change, food security, and sustainable markets through inclusive transformation in contract farming and out-grower schemes. Africa Food360 Accelerator is a regional trade and learning exchange programme between Zambia, Namibia, and South Africa implemented by WECREATE and funded by the Southern African Innovation Support Program (SAIS) through the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. Partners include the National Technology Business Center (NTBC), Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Namibia, and Brilliant Entrepreneur of the Netherlands (BE), Tapsnapp, South Africa, and AGCO Future Farm.