Kigali – The IGNITE Food Systems Challenge initiative, renowned for its impactful solutions, is back for its highly anticipated second edition, expanding its support to eight innovative ventures aimed at bolstering Rwanda’s food systems and enhancing overall food security resilience. This initiative, implemented by the World Food Programme (WFP) and Impact Hub Kigali with the support of USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is a prime example of how partnerships can work to support the scaling of local and regional innovations.
In her opening remarks, Ms. Jessica Torrens-Spence, USAID’s Director of the Office of Economic Growth in Rwanda, stressed: “Innovation requires the development of new partnerships and networks to finance and scale creative ideas and solutions so that their impacts can be realized.”
The winners of the IGNITE Food Systems Challenge second edition were revealed at the Kigali Marriott Hotel during a captivating pitch event, where each finalist showcased their ground-breaking solutions to a live audience and a distinguished panel of judges. Esteemed representatives from the Ministry of Youth (MINIYOUTH), East Africa Investments, the Mastercard Foundation, Vertland Africa, and WFP comprised the jury, contributing their expertise to the selection process.
The eight chosen ventures operate in diverse sectors such as food processing, aquaculture, agriculture mechanization, and provision of inputs. These exceptional ventures will embark on a tailored four-month acceleration program designed to propel their growth and impact. Throughout the initiative, they will each receive comprehensive technical support, mentorship, and funding of up to $30,000, enabling them to scale their solutions effectively.
Ms. Inka Himanen, the acting Officer-in-Charge at WFP Rwanda, looked forward to the outcome: “Today is only the beginning – the real celebration will occur four months from now when we witness the remarkable growth and scaling up of these ventures, the positive influence they have on the national economy, and their ultimate contribution to improving the entire food system of Rwanda.”
The second edition of the IGNITE Food Systems Challenge welcomed an overwhelming response, with 364 applications received from across the nation. After a rigorous selection process, 18 ventures were pre-selected by multiple committees. These ventures underwent a thorough due diligence process and intensive skills training during a 3-day bootcamp, and personalized coaching to ensure their readiness for the pitch event. Eventually, 13 ventures emerged as finalists and pitched their solutions at the event.
Mr. Cares Manzi, Managing Director of Impact Hub Kigali, expressed his enthusiasm: “Building upon the success of the first edition, we are thrilled to welcome a greater number of ventures to the program this year. We eagerly anticipate collaborating with our partners to provide tailored support, empowering these ventures to scale their impactful solutions and contribute toward the development of a resilient food system in Rwanda.”
The IGNITE Food System Challenge initiative is made possible through the generous support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark and the USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA). The initiative was launched last year simultaneously in South Sudan, Uganda, and Rwanda.
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About the Implementing Partners
The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters, and the impact of climate change.
WFP’s IGNITE Innovation Hub for Eastern Africa was launched in December 2020, with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, to leverage WFP’s brand, public and private partners, deep field access, and expertise to develop, nurture and scale sustainable innovations for increased food security in the region.
Impact Hub Kigali (IHK) is a community-based innovation hub in Kigali, Rwanda, offering a unique ecosystem of resources, inspiration, and collaboration opportunities to grow positive impact. IHK offers a range of innovation and entrepreneurship support initiatives, including incubation programmes, bootcamps and challenges. IHK is part of a large social innovation network in the world with +100 open hubs in over 60 countries.
Follow us on Twitter @WFP_Africa @AhmareenKarim @ImpactHubKigali
For more information please contact:
Hannah Lahodny, World Food Programme, [email protected]
Sarah Colbourne, World Food Programme, [email protected]
Olexa Heshima, Impact Hub Kigali, [email protected]