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Branson Centre and UNDP announce Food Waste Innovation Challenge Entrepreneurs.

Updated: Sep 14, 2021

  • 10 entrepreneurs selected through a nationwide call for food waste innovation

  • Selected participants will undergo a six-month go-to-market and investor-readiness mentorship programme

  • Challenge is supported by partner UNDP Accelerator Labs South Africa

In response to an open call for its Food Waste Innovation Challenge, the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship South Africa and its partner, the United Nation Development Programme Accelerator Labs (UNDP AccLab) South Africa, has narrowed down its selection of entrepreneurs to take part in its Ignite programme from more than 100 innovative solutions.

Ten enterprises aimed at reducing food waste will begin a six-month go-to-market and investor-readiness programme to scale their food waste solutions.

“We are extremely excited to embark on this next step in these entrepreneurs’ journeys,” says Wesley Noble, Director of The Branson Centre.

“The twelfth goal of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is to reduce global food waste by 50% by 2030 and these enterprises are showing their commitment to playing their part in helping South Africa intercept and prevent food waste.” The 10 entrepreneurs include:

  • Gloria Sibongiseni Gaqa of African Green Energies, a company that intends to manufacture biodigesters for households, rural communities and local small businesses

  • Brian Kusel of BiobiN South Africa, BiobiN vessels that easily capture, contain and process food and organic waste

  • Linda Manyeza whose Food Masters SA rescues food destined for landfills due to quality, oversupply or low market demand then preserves it through dehydration

  • Global Worming’s Julie Medhurst offers a food waste collection service to eateries and businesses and provides a range of domestic and industrial-sized worm bins and farms, and organic fertilisers

  • Bandile Dlabantu of Khepri Bioscience utilises biotechnology and Black soldier flies to convert organic and food waste into usable products for manufacturing, pharmaceutics and water treatment

  • Samuel Maledu enables retailers and eateries to sell their surplus and reduced-to-clear food to the public at reduced prices with RescueBite

  • Lowell Scarr’s Nambu Group is an early-stage insect protein company that turns food waste into high-value nutritious feed for livestock and pets

  • Organic Waste to Energy (OWE) founder Rosley Sibanda aims to build an industrial biogas plant to scale her sustainable waste management services that divert waste while producing renewable energy

  • Himkaar Singh of The Compost Kitchen collects food waste from households and recycles it into vermicompost with plans to build Africa’s first kitchen composting waste bin

  • Founder of Untum Solutions, Nomuntu Ndhlovu, is building a low-tech Black soldier fly breeding system to eliminate food waste for small-scale farmers in rural communities.

The 10 entrepreneurs will be provided with direct mentorship; access to expert opinions, insights and inputs for their business; third-party collaborations on their purpose, brand identity and marketing; regular progress workshops; and access to legal, IT, accounting and other business services. The Food Waste Innovation Challenge is further supported by WWF South Africa and the V&A Waterfront, both of which will provide the 10 entrepreneurs with insights and real-life application for their solutions.

“UNDP sees innovation as the currency of development. Innovation in the circular economy is a necessary condition to greening and decarbonise the South African economy while entrepreneurial spirit, inherent in these ten entrepreneurs, is a sufficient condition to use innovation to unlock development bottlenecks.” Dr Ayodele Odusola, Resident Representative for UNDP South Africa.

“This opportunity to be guided and mentored and to find our feet – it’s exciting!” says RescueBite’s Maledu. “ You have our 101% commitment and energy for this. It’s an opportunity and a privilege.”

Other participants echoed his sentiments, with Dlabantu of Khepri Bioscience being lost for words while Untum Solutions’ Ndhlovu says she feels like a winner.

Adds Noble: We believe entrepreneurs have a role to play in driving collective action at scale. This is why we are building a network of support through the Food Waste Innovation Community where entrepreneurs who are obsessed with finding solutions to food waste can support one another and exchange ideas.”

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