Two Kenyan companies, Kuruwitu Conservation Welfare, and Toothpick Company Ltd are among 50 global small- and medium-sized businesses that were announced as winners of the recently held “Good Food for All” competition, held in conjunction with the UN Food Systems Summit.
Selected from nearly 2,000 applications from 135 countries, these winners all showcase inspiring, diverse, and impactful solutions in improving access to healthy, sustainable food. They form part of a global set of 50 winners – half of whom are youth-led and nearly half are women-led – who will all share US$100,000 in cash prizes.
“Small businesses are the hidden heroes of our food systems, managing at least half of our food economies and keeping food on our plates throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr Agnes Kalibata, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the 2021 Food Systems Summit. “We must understand the challenges they face and work together to ensure they remain at the heart of efforts to improve the future of food.”
Each winner was selected for how their business contributes to healthier, more sustainable and equitable food for the communities they serve; the strength of their vision for the future; and how well they communicate the current and future impacts of their business.
Care for the environment and a need to protect valuable coastal and marine biodiversity is the focus for Kuruwitu Conservation Welfare, which works to protect a 30 ha locally-managed marine area (LMMA) known as Tengefu and share benefits from enhanced fish catches and eco-tourism with local communities.
Toothpick Company Ltd works with rural women to locally produce a fungus-based herbicide to fight the pernicious witchweed, Striga. This toothpick solution is easily distributed to farmers, is safe, effective and affordable, and increases yields of staple crops such as maize by 42-56%.
Food SMEs operate in the toughest markets, having a real impact on rural poverty and hunger, whilst ensuring resilience to shocks like COVID-19 and climate change.
The competition winners were announced alongside a new reported, based on a global survey of these businesses’ ambition and needs. The report outlines three critical pathways for supporting small businesses in realising their full promise: creating more conducive business environments, offering more positive incentives, and empowering small business leaders to have greater influence in sector planning.