Since 2013, GAIN has been supporting the growth and investment of small businesses in nutritious foods value chains. Our first-generation programme, the Marketplace for Nutritious Foods was implemented from 2013 through 2020 in Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Tanzania. During the Covid-19 pandemic, we pivoted to emergency response. We have recently added a focus on helping existing Enterprise Support Organisations add a nutrition lens.
Food choices are shaped by food systems, where the private sector is the main player and investor. In Africa, the food environment is dominated by smaller companies, especially in retail and distribution. Small and medium-sized input suppliers, off-takers, processors and distributors along the food value chain are key drivers of job creation and regional economic growth. For nearly a decade, GAIN’s Marketplace for Nutritious Foods focused on supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in nutritious food value chains in developing profitable business models and sustainably bringing nutritious and safe foods to market.
The Marketplace’s two-pronged approach supported a broad network of stakeholders with information and knowledge, through the Community of Practice, while targeted technical and financial support was offered to promising, innovative enterprises through the Innovation Accelerator.
The Innovation Accelerator supported investible, nutrition-enhancing business ideas within the agricultural value chain. After careful review, promising proposals were eligible for technical assistance to support business planning, product and business development. Selected companies became eligible to receive grant funding and technical assistance to support the implementation of the business plan. During the acute phase of the Covid-19 pandemic (2020-21), we exploited our large library of Standard Operating Procedures to rapidly offer financial and technical assistance to over 160 badly hit businesses in eight countries.
From 2022, we continue to provide tailored technical assistance linked to the Nutrition Foods Financing Facility, but are also adapting our approach to build the capacity of existing Enterprise Support Organisations to add a nutrition lens to their work. This project - Nutrition Impact at Scale - will be implemented in six African countries.
We are conducting research to better understand how SMEs in nutritious food value chains successfully reach the poorest consumers.
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