Entrepreneurs are the missing piece of the puzzle for improving food security in SA

Date:13 October 2021 Tags:,

Did you know that 60% food relief during lockdown came from civil society? Far outweighing any government interventions, it points to the power of the people to help solve the food security challenges in our country.

This revealing insight surfaced during the recent #cocreateDESIGN FESTIVAL 2021, which was organised by Craft and Design Institute (CDI) in collaboration with the Mission Network of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in South Africa. The Festival also saw the launch of the RE:SOLVE Challenge, an eight-month support programme for entrepreneurs with a share of R100 000 grant funding available for selected local innovations. The Challenge is now open for entries and aims to help entrepreneurs develop new, or refine existing, products and services to solve some of SA’s pressing challenges, including food security.

World Food Day on October 16, which is themed “Our actions are our future – Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life”, is an opportunity to place our food system into sharp focus and highlight the need for home-grown innovations to address systemic challenges. It is a system that is broken for millions of South Africans who struggle to access, on a daily basis, affordable, nutritious, and good quality food.

Erica Elk, Group CEO of CDI, argues that “what we need is to unlock the ingenuity of South Africans and design new solutions; and while government has a role to play, we need new ways to support local innovation in particular. At the #cocreateDESIGN FESTIVAL we had an opportunity to deep dive into the challenges we face to understand the underlying factors behind them a little bit better, and the RE:SOLVE Challenge will offer that next step for innovators, ideators and social entrepreneurs to get support.”

A range of incredible actions and efforts already helping to address food security was highlighted at the Festival, which took place in late September.

According to Petrina Pakoe of Peninsula School Feeding Association (a #cocreateDESIGN FESTIVAL 2021 speaker), 50% of child death is associated with malnutrition. The Association currently works in 859 Western Cape schools, feeding approximately 303 400 learners twice a day. The hope is to help alleviate poverty and turn back an oppressive tide of statistics where 1 in 5 children go hungry, 1 in 5 are stunted, and 1 in 8 are obese due to malnutrition.

Karin Kleinbooi of Solidaridad SA, an organisation which is active in “reclaiming sustainability” throughout 40 countries worldwide, advocates localised food production to help solve for some of these issues. Speaking at #cocreateDESIGN FESTIVAL 2021, Kleinbooi explained how Solidaridad works to build the capacity of subsistence farmers. She advocates for food produced and consumed locally as it is a more affordable alternative to improve diets and farmers can also supplement their income if they sell surplus produce.

Small-scale commercial farming support can be seen with, for example, the Langa Agri/Food Hub. Spier Wine Farm in Stellenbosch has joined hands with other small-holder growers in a collaborative effort to boost the local organically-grown food system.According to Elk, these activities on the ground to solve the food security puzzle need to be encouraged at all levels. We need so much more in South Africa, and new innovative ideas must be given the opportunity to see the light of day. It is here that tapping into the entrepreneurial spirit of South Africans can make a difference. “We are looking with our RE:SOLVE Challenge particularly for solutions that can improve the lives of the most vulnerable in our society, and with our focus on entrepreneurship, we hope the solutions we support can be beneficial on two levels, addressing a critical crisis in the country while also stimulating new ways to create jobs and local economic growth.”

To this end, anyone with a good idea that can help solve for food security is invited to enter the RE:SOLVE Challenge. RE:SOLVE is funded by the City of Cape Town and managed by the CDI, a non-profit with 20 years of success in supporting local entrepreneurs.

Entries for RE:SOLVE are online and close on 31 October 2021. Enter via: https://www.thecdi.org.za/RESOLVE.

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