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Innovating Food Systems in East Africa: How does innovation contribute to boosting food security? (January 2022)

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UN World Food Programme releases a flagship report on the Food Systems Innovation landscape in East Africa

The IGNITE Innovation Hub for Eastern Africa, an initiative of the United Nations World Food Programme, and the data-driven research firm Briter Bridges, today released the Innovating Food Systems in East Africa report, which focuses on the food systems ecosystem encompassing innovation, digital and technology-driven solutions in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda.

Whilst looking at socio-economic contexts, and innovations that address food insecurity, the report also provides a snapshot into the various stages of ecosystem development in the five countries, as well as their funding landscapes. New investment vehicles that exist for entrepreneurs are also highlighted in addition to the growing investments emerging from private and public organizations.

“We can see that Investments in the food system space are growing compared to the pre-covid period, especially as the SDG 2, Zero Hunger continues to be a top priority on the global agenda,” says Jeremie Pigé, Head of the WFP IGNITE Innovation Hub for Eastern Africa. “We are also seeing that an increasing number of funders are incorporating an impact focus in their mandate.”

Key to note is that this report illustrates how the value of investment deals that are signed with food systems innovators remains far behind that of other regions around the world, and that sectors such as fintech are allocated substantially higher volumes and numbers year to year.

While the environment and composition of food systems across the five target countries have some similarities, they do differ in the stages of development, the size and advances of the startup ecosystem, and the availability of support from surrounding stakeholders. Innovating Food Systems in East Africa explores this narrative in detail and concludes there is a close link between the development stage of a country and its innovative, digital, and technology-driven food systems ecosystem.

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The WFP IGNITE Innovation Hub was launched in late 2020 and brings together different partners, leveraging their expertise in food security, climate change resilience and innovation, partners, and the power of their combined brands to source, nurture, and scale market-based innovations in the region. This is the first external report released by the Hub.

Briter Bridges is a market intelligence and research firm that focuses on emerging economies and has built the largest collection of visual publications on Africa and underserved markets. It regularly provides data and insights to corporates, development finance institutions, governments, and investors.

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This report is made possible thanks to the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs