World News: World worries over malnutrition in Africa| Jeremy Spell Blog

More than 200 delegates, including
dealmakers, entrepreneurs and investors,
will meet at the Nutrition Africa Investor
Forum (NAIF) to discuss how to position
nutrition as a promising new investment
The meeting holding in Nairobi on October
16-17 – World Food Day – is to explore
partnerships, access business finance and
enter new markets.
Over these two days, selected Small and
Medium Enterprises (SMEs) from across
Africa will have opportunities to participate
in the first ever Scaling Up Nutrition Pitch
Competition as well as The Nutrition
Dealroom to meet venture capitalists and
business financiers to improve their access
to finance.
NAIF is a first-of-a-kind event, hosted by the
Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition
(GAIN) in partnership with Royal DSM, the
SUN Business Network (SBN) and African
Business magazine.
The event will bring together leaders from
commerce, agri-food, development
agencies, academia along with investors to
share their experiences, present research
results, explore collaborations and spark
new ideas – all with the aim of developing
new projects and attracting investment for
high-impact nutrition businesses.
Malnutrition affects millions of children
across the world.
Africa alone has estimated that 58.7 million
children under the age of five are stunted –
having a low height for a given age – and
13.8 million who are wasting – low weight
for a certain height.
There is no doubt that stunted children
today will lead to stunted economies
In fact, African nations lose between 1.9%
and 16% of the gross domestic product
(GDP) annually to undernutrition due to
increased mortality, absenteeism, chronic
illnesses, and lost productivity.
Governments alone cannot address this
issue. Private sector investment is key to
tackle this challenge. In fact, the nutrition
sector offers tremendous opportunities to
There is a central role for business in
tackling malnutrition in Africa, explains
Fokko Wientjes, vice president of nutrition
in emerging markets and public-private
partnerships at Royal DSM.
“As scaling up nutrition action delivers at
least $16 in returns on investment for every
$1 spent, nutrition-sensitive capital
investments along the entire food value
chain are likely to represent a tremendous
purpose-driven investment opportunity.
“We will fundamentally integrate SDG 1
(poverty reduction) with SDG 2 (hunger &
nutrition) by producing locally; Africa
nourishes Africa.”
Africa’s demographic dividend is also an
opportunity, Mr. Wientjes reveals,
“There are more than 1 billion people in the
current African consumer market.
This is expected to increase to more than 2
billion by 2050. With 226 million people
aged between 15 and 25 years, the
continent also has the youngest population
in the world.
This represents enormous potential: a
young, growing African consumer market
that is more health-conscious, favouring
nutritious and healthy foods.
Emerging markets are the fastest
urbanizing countries in the world. They are
moving away from subsistence and
smallholder farming and with that
separating the producer from the
In fact, SMEs, along with smallholder
farmers, make up the bulk of the actors in
the food system in developing and
emerging markets. They play a key role as
input suppliers, off-takers, processors, and
distributors, which furthermore creates
jobs and enhances regional economic
Yet, barriers to accessing finance mean that
agri-food SMEs are not achieving their full
potential in developing and scaling up
market-based solutions that can improve
the consumption of safe and nutritious
“We have a great opportunity to close that
gap,” explains Dr. Lawrence Haddad, GAIN’s
Executive Director, “by creating a
sustainable food value chain and working
through local agrifood industry SMEs, to
ensure that nutritious foods are more
accessible, affordable, and aspirational.
To help this cause, GAIN has recently
launched a Nutritious Foods Financing
Programme which aims to build and
maintain an investable pipeline of
opportunities among agrifood SMEs, linking
this to investors, leveraging blended finance
options to help de-risk private investments,
and providing technical assistance to
The Forum will also be host to two
engagement channels to facilitate
partnerships between high-impact
nutrition businesses and venture capitalists
and financiers.

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