World Food Programme (WFP) in collaboration with Outbox Hub, on Thursday launched the IGNITE Food Systems Challenge, that seeks to offer technical support and US$300,000 to entrepreneurs in Uganda.
Launched at Golden Tulip hotel, the programme is supported by USAID and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark.
The programme seeks to assist start-ups, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMES) and cooperatives to scale up their solutions contributing to the economy while addressing gaps in the food system.
Speaking at the launch, the chief guest, Ahimbisbwe Stanley, who is the Assistant Commissioner Quality Assurance and Standardization at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives thanked WFP for organising the challenge which he said will go a long way in supporting startups, small and medium enterprises and cooperatives to provide solutions to the food system in Uganda.
He noted that he is optimistic that the challenge will help the Trade ministry to address the challenges in the agricultural sector, improve the quality of food, improve supply chains, empower smallholder farmers and refugees to advance food security in Uganda.
“It’s very important as a ministry because it shelved off some of the things we can’t do. For us we are policy makers and we support trade, technology and cooperative,” Ahimbisibwe said.
“These youth are failing to see value in agriculture because they are not well skilled and for those who are trying, they are not doing proper booking so as you do this work, engage us so that we can also support in this area.” he added.
Ahimbisibwe emphasised that as a country, there is need to consistently welcome actors who are supporting SMEs to improve their produce to access any market locally and out of the country in the East African Community, COMESA and many more.
On his part, WFP Africa, Deputy Country Director, Marcus Prior thanked all the partners and said that they expect the challenge to ignite the spirit of innovation in Uganda.
“We look forward to receiving ideas from small and growing businesses, start-ups and cooperatives working throughout the length and breadth of the food system including in production, processing, distribution and retail. In this #IGNITEFoodSystems, we are looking for ideas that will solve the most pressing food systems challenges of our time,” Prior said.
He also encouraged women entrepreneurs to come forward and participate in the challenge because they are fundamental to improving the country’s food systems.
He aded, “Similarly, it is important that the most vulnerable - refugees, people with disability, small holder farmers, young people - are part of the solution to our food systems; and we look forward to receiving submissions from them
Prior said that as WFP, they consider collaboration with the private sector an absolute must to build stronger and more resilient food systems.
“If we do not equip our food systems to produce quality food for all, more people will struggle to put nutritious healthy food on their family tables, and we will all pay the price in terms of lost human capital,”
The winning ventures will receive funding of up to $50,000 (Shs176 million) each as well as 6 months of acceleration support, including connections to experts and mentors.
The call for applications opens on April 21, 2022 and will close on May 20, 2022. Intrested ventures can apply online at https//bit.ly/ignitefooduganda.