INVESTORS in agribusiness are exploring 82 million US dollars worth of business opportunities in Africa.
Leading business leaders, policy makers and prominent development campaigners joined over 200 delegates to launch the first ever Nutrition Africa Investor Forum here yesterday.
High-level representatives from the World Bank, European Commission, International Finance Corporation, Kenya Commercial Bank, Graça Machel Trust and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation joined the gathering focused on unlocking the business potential of small and medium enterprises working to improve the nutritional quality of the food system across Africa.
The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), a Swiss Foundation and Royal DSM --a purpose-led global science-based company in nutrition, health and sustainable living - are co-hosting the drive to generate greater investments to improve nutrition in Africa.
During the day, 82 million US dollars worth of investment opportunities were explored by over 60 fast-growing small and medium (SMEs) enterprises, who often face challenges accessing affordable finance.
While micro businesses have funders but not scale and large companies find attracting investment easy, it is the missing middle - small and medium growing businesses - that find it difficult to attract investment.
The forum met this challenge by hosting a platform for over 60 companies from across Africa to connect with investors.
Mr Lawrence Haddad, the Executive Director, GAIN, who is being awarded the World Food Prize said that malnutrition is a massive problem in Africa.
"Businesses have to be part of the solution for malnutrition in Africa. The big problem most businesses face, especially the small and medium-sized ones when it comes to engaging in the market, is that they lack access to finance.
"GAIN works with businesses to develop their deal flows and their business case and then link them to investors.
This is the first real effort within Africa to make it easier for businesses to provide nutritious food by making it more readily available, affordable and accessible," he said via a video as he was in the US.
As part of the work, the organisation partnered with the UN World Food Programme to hold the first SUN Business Network Pitch Competition on the continent.
The finals, held at the forum, saw 21 companies showcasing their work to tackle nutrition following national competitions in Nigeria, Tanzania, Mozambique, Malawi, Ethiopia, Kenya and Z ambia involving 4 50 businesses.
Highlighting the importance of unlocking investments across the nutrition value chain, Mr Fokko Wientjes, Vice President of Nutrition in Emerging Markets said that with 30-4 0 percent of stunted children in Africa there is an urgent need to make nutritious foods widely available, affordable but most importantly inspirational in the eyes of the consumer.
The forum's Nutrition Dealroom that brought investors face-to-face with established fast growing businesses working to improve access to nutritious food, won praise from Mr Wientjes.
"The forum offers investors the chance to obtain a unique overview of selected investment opportunities across the value chain and identify outstanding commercial opportunities," he said.