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Nigerian Businesses Innovate to Improve Nutritious Food Access for Low-income Consumers

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Thu, 05/02/2024 – 10:01

Consuming a healthy diet is vital for people’s well-being – to live well, grow, and stay active. Nigeria’s vibrant food systems have the critical job of nourishing Africa’s largest nation – a growing and youthful population that needs to be well-fed to meet its potential. Unfortunately, for many in Nigeria, nutritious foods such as fish, nuts, fruits, and vegetables, are often too expensive, unsafe, inconvenient, unattractive, or simply not available. This lack of readily accessible and desirable healthy diets contributes to the country’s burden of malnutrition (1). With its capacity for innovation, and widespread influence as the main provider of food, and financial resources, the private sector is well-positioned to help change this. But to do so equitably, they need to take into account the needs of the nation’s many low-income consumers.

To support this, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition and Scaling Up Nutrition Business Network (SBN), in collaboration with the FATE Foundation, launched a business pitch competition (the Nourish Nigeria Challenge), seeking companies with innovative and scalable business models. After an open call, ten finalists were supported in perfecting their pitches and approaches through an intensive boot camp (2).

The final pitch competition was held on March 14, and each entrepreneur had two minutes to pitch to a panel of judges, (Dr Helen Emore Managing Director of Scientia Partners Innovation Hub, Ibrahim Tiamiyu, Founder/Chairman Plan B Group and Prof Tosin Adu, Professor of Nutrition Biochemistry Lagos State University), about their innovative models, the reach and location of their target audience, and their financing needs and aspirations. After a highly competitive set of pitches, three entrepreneurs emerged on top.

Clinching third place, with a prize of NGN 2,000,000 (2500 USD) was Saidat Dauda of Abisal Megatop Limited. Abisal’s business model is based on affordability and community involvement. The company produces G-Corn Flour, a very affordable, nutrient-fortified cereal product made from local grains (organic guinea corn, millet, ginger, and garlic). They sell this product in single-serving sachets, making it accessible to low-income consumers. Additionally, they work with smallholder farmers, providing them with training and input loans, and in return, they purchase grain from these farmers, contributing to the local economy

Saidat Dauda of Abisal Megatop Limited

In second place, with a prize of NGN 3,000,000 (3500 USD) was Gideon Olaoye of G.O.A Farms. Gideon’s business model is centred on product innovation and market identification in the aquaculture sector. His company identified a market for a new product line, spiced dry fish powder, made from blending powdered catfish with natural spices into small package sizes. This product serves as a more natural, locally produced alternative seasoning to monosodium glutamate. Gideon and his team see this as a way to provide an affordable animal-based food product to low-income communities. They have identified young people from tertiary institutions, who have very little earning power, as a lucrative market for the product which will also appeal to adolescents in low-income families

Gideon Olaoye of G.O.A Farms 

Finally, claiming first place and the grand prize of NGN 5,000,000 (6000 USD) was Babafemi Adejinmi of Gatob Multi-integrated Services. Babafemi’s business operates on a waste-to-wealth model: it processes chicken organs, often considered waste, and sells them to local food processors, street food merchants, and households in low-income communities. This model provides affordable protein to consumers and contributes to environmental sustainability by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from rotten chicken waste.

Babafemi Adejinmi of Gatob Multi-integrated Services

In addition to these prizes, all three winners will receive professional financial services and business support from SBN, and all the contestants will be inducted into FATE’s Alumni Community of Business Owners. The process of the competition, from selection to bootcamp, to the actual pitch, was memorable and impactful for all the contestants. Their final pitches demonstrated their newly strong sense of understanding of nutrition as well as innovative business models for reaching lower-income consumers. 

The prize money received by the winners will be dedicated to the purchase of machinery, raw materials, human resources, and operational costs to enable them to expand their services to more consumers within the communities they serve. According to Babafemi, the winner and the knowledge they gained from this process will be reflected in their results and in the communities they serve. “‘’Before the event, a challenge my business faced was how to scale, but through the programme, I have learnt that scaling does not only require additional funds because you can also scale by optimising the use of available resources”.

(1) Improving Nigeria’s Food Systems to reduce malnutrition, Oct 2023
(2) Supporting Entrepreneurs to Adopt Scalable Techniques to Improve Nutrition for Low-income Consumers
(3) IISD. Ceres2030 Deep Dives into the Nexus of Food Systems, Climate Change, and Diets Achieving Sustainable Food Systems in a Global Crisis: NIGERIA. 2022 

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03.05.2024
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Nigerian Businesses Innovate to Improve Nutritious Food Access for Low-income Consumers.
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