The IGNITE Food Systems Challenge (First Edition) was the first-of-its-kind initiative launched to support Rwandan start-ups, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and cooperatives to scale up their solutions, contributing to the economy while addressing different gaps in the food system. The challenge was launched by The United Nations World Food Programme(WFP) and Impact Hub Kigali (IHK), with the support of the USAID Bureau of Humanitarian Affairs (BHA) and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Rwanda to foster locally-driven solutions to tackle food systems challenges. The initiative offered technical support and a total of up to 300,000 USD in financial support.
After the rigorous application review process, 12 shortlisted ventures participated in a 2-day boot camp to work with trainers and coaches in developing their storytelling, leadership, sales, and pitching skills.
Selected ventures received grant funding of up to USD 50,000 as well as 6 months of acceleration support, including connections to experts, mentors, and partners, which strengthened their skills and addressed gaps in their businesses, with a tailored curriculum.
The winners were announced at the pitch day that took place at the Kigali Convention Centre on 25th March 2022 where each of the finalists presented their innovative solutions to a live audience and a panel of judges. The judges’ panel included representatives from JASIRI, Water Access Rwanda, One Acre Fund, Mastercard Foundation, and WFP.
Below are the six startups that emerged as winners:
Aflakiosk provides rapid, accurate, affordable, independent, on-site testing for farmers, traders and aggregators in the maize value chain across Rwanda.
Magofarm is a waste to a nutrient insect-tech startup that converts food waste and post-harvest losses into organic fertilizer and protein for animal feed formulation.
CARL Group is a youth-led company elevating malnutrition among children and women by making nutrient-rich pastries using locally sourced unique ingredients such as orange-fleshed sweet potatoes.
Uruhimbi Kageyo Cooperative (UKC) is a hydroponic fodder hub in Rwanda, mainstreaming soilless green technologies that utilize small land size, subsidize cost-effective and nutritious animal feeds.
Ironji LTD enables good movers (farmers, agribusinesses, and manufacturing processing industries to easily get connected to nearby truck drivers ready to move their goods.
Zone des Entreprises Agricole (ZEAN) LTD is an established Agro-processing plant reducing harvest and post-harvest losses through processing bananas into banana chips and processing maize into maize flours.
During the 6-month -long acceleration phase, each startup received USD 50,000 based on their scaling plan and milestones, and also accessed expert hours and got matched with specific mentors and coaches from the Impact Hub Network and World Food Programme based on their needs and growth ambitions. The program also included masterclasses and workshops covering topics such as Impact Measurement, Leadership mindset and Investment readiness.
To widen venture networks and improve peer-to-peer support, ventures attended networking events and accessed peer support from other participants to build a Community of Practice. Furthermore, Impact Hub Kigali facilitated connections as well as identified fundraising opportunities/events to meet investors.
At the end of the program, there was a Demo Day for ventures to share their acceleration journeys.
On December 1st, we hosted the IGNITE Demo Day, which was a pinnacle of the 6-months IGNITE Food Systems Challenge program. At the event, the 6 ventures: Aflakiosk, Carl Group, Ironji, Magofarm, UKC, and ZEAN Ltd demonstrated all the progress they have made with their innovative food security solutions during the acceleration phase of the program. Watch the whole event here.