The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) – an international organisation founded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and driven by the mission of a world without malnutrition- is hosting the first-ever Nutrition Africa Investor Forum (NAIF) in Nairobi, Kenya, on 16-17 October, to invite and engage private sector investors to play a key role in improving nutrition across Africa. The event is hosted in partnership with Royal DSM, a purpose-led global science-based company in nutrition, health and sustainable living recognized for its global fight against malnutrition, the SUN Business Network and African Business magazine.
The Nutrition Africa Investor Forum will highlight business opportunities in a largely underdeveloped market. From farm to fork, nutrient gaps in diets within low and middle-income markets constitute a largely untapped market worth USD$120bn. According to a recent study, no African country is expected to reach the UN target of ending childhood malnutrition by 2030. In fact, malnutrition indicators remain ‘persistently high’ in 14 countries, stretching across from Sahel from Senegal in the west to Eritrea in the east.
This challenge needs to be addressed. GAIN argues engaging the private sector is key in addressing this issue. Nutrition-sensitive capital investments along the entire food value chain are critical to drive better availability, access, affordability — and finally — consumption of nutritious foods.
GAIN works with nearly 1 000 companies across the food value chain in Africa, but many of these cite access to capital as a challenge. At the Forum, experts will present a number of viable investment opportunities from these enterprises to venture capital funds, private equity groups, finance institutions, foundations and impact investors. The forum will showcase current and future investment potential for nutritious foods in Africa. There will also be an opportunity for the private sector and investors to discuss key challenges and discuss opportunities for unlocking greater investment in nutrition market with the instruments and vehicles that are currently available and those under development.
Lawrence Haddad, GAIN’s executive director, says: ‘One in three people in the world suffers from some form of malnutrition. Moreover, poor diet is the number one risk factor in the global burden of disease. We believe in the enormous potential of national food businesses in Africa to address this challenge by producing more affordable, nutritious foods. However, for this to happen new private investments must be unlocked for SMEs along with new policy and lending instruments. We’re aiming to help bridge this gap.’
Fokko Wientjes, vice president Malnutrition Programs & Partnerships Royal DSM and member of the SUN Business Network Executive Committee, added: ‘Nutrition is the new asset class of a dynamic African food industry. Businesses, governments and investors don’t just have a moral case for investing in nutrition – they now have a business case too. Businesses in Africa adapt their approach as governments and consumers increasingly demand access to safe, affordable nutritious foods. Smart companies and investors will start building now the African food industry of the future, serving the African consumer of the future.’