Scaling Up Nutrition Competition: Connecting African and Asian entrepreneurs with investors, policymakers

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Nigerian entrepreneur Ope Olanrewaju (second from right) emerged as the overall winner of the 2018 competition. @SUN Business Network
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As nutrition remains a key food subject across Africa and Asia, SMEs and entrepreneurs remain at the forefront of providing a bulk of the food consumed and have the potential to increase access to safe, nutritious foods. In most instances however, they struggle with access to finance and technical support that can assist them grow their businesses and reach more consumers. Now that is changing with SUN Business Network, SBN, investing in entrepreneurs in the nutrition space by connecting them with technical assistance and investment opportunities.

One such way is through The Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Pitch Competition. This year 21 African and Asian entrepreneurs have made it to the finals and will showcase their innovations at a virtual event scheduled for July 30 2020The finalists have been selected through a series of 24 National SUN Pitch Competitions  over the last year.

“As consumers, employees and companies deal with the impacts of COVID-19, access to safe, nutritious food becomes even more important. SMEs across Africa and Asia are vital in the pandemic response but their ability to operate is being put under increasing strain. Now, more than ever, SMEs need our continued support and investment to allow them to adapt and innovate in challenging times. The SUN Pitch Competition will help answer this challenge and connect SMEs with new investors, new government support programmes and new business partners – helping them continue to provide much needed access to affordable nutrition to low income consumers.” states Lawrence Haddad, Executive Director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), which co-convenes the SBN with the UN World Food Programme.

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With the current COVID-19 crisis, health and nutrition is suffering from multiple shocks. This is particularly evident for women, adolescent girls, children, older people and marginalised groups in the poorest countries of the world. At the same time, undernutrition may exacerbate the severity of COVID-19 contracted cases, with those undernourished more likely to die from infectious diseases. Nutrition innovations are therefore more critical than ever before, and access to safe and nutritious food must be safeguarded.

Policymakers, development partners, donors, entrepreneurs and investors are therefore invited to come together to explore partnerships around nutrition during this unique virtual SUN Pitch Competition event. The entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to access business finance and enter new markets, and the investors are invited to discuss collaborations and investments with the finalists in more detail in a ‘Nutrition Dealroom’. These Dealroom sessions will also connect the finalists with mentors and other ecosystem partners to match the investment-ready entrepreneurs with corporates to provide finance, mentorship and market-entry solutions to strengthen and scale up the pitch competition enterprises.

The overall winner of the SUN Pitch Competition will receive a cash prize of US$20,000 from the SUN Business Network for the most innovative solution for improved nutrition. A further US$17,000 will be awarded for the first and second runners up. In addition, the SUN Pitch Competition sponsors will each present  US$10,000 cash prizes, which include the DSM 3A Nutrition Award, the Cargill Prize on Innovation to Enable Access to Improved Nutrition, and the GAIN Food Technology Innovation Prize. Supporting partners, AGREA and BoP Innovation Center are also contributing mentorship prizes.

The Global SUN Pitch Competition 2020 is organised by the SUN Business Network and sponsored by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the UN World Food Programme (WFP), Cargill and Royal DSM. The competition is also supported by, Food Industry Asia (FIA), Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs, AGREA and Base of the Pyramid Innovation Center (BoP Inc).

To access the online transmission of the competition on July 30 one can register here:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/global-sun-pitch-competition-2020-registration-93086047875

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