The UN Food Systems Summit has announced a competition to identify the best small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from across the world who are transforming food systems for a better tomorrow.
The Summit has launched a unique contest, named “Best Small Business: Good Food for All”, which will surface and name 50 small and medium-sized businesses worldwide whose work best exemplifies the Summit’s aim of delivering all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by providing healthy, sustainable food and livelihoods for all.
The competition recognises those playing a key role in “building back better” from the pandemic while calling attention to the challenges they have been battling to overcome. The pandemic has disproportionately affected smaller businesses across the globe, especially those led by women. For example, the revenues of European SMEs alone saw reductions by as much as 70 per cent, according to one survey, while the World Bank estimates that businesses in developing countries were especially hard hit, with revenues down 70 per cent at the peak of the crisis, compared to only 45 per cent in OECD countries.
The Summit will celebrate those playing their part to transform through innovation the way small businesses produce, consume and dispose of food, offering lessons for building greater economic resilience and sustainability.
“All around the world, leaders need to pay attention to the ‘hidden’ contribution of the smaller businesses that are nourishing communities, creating jobs and regenerating nature,” said Dr Agnes Kalibata, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the 2021 Food Systems Summit.
“These everyday businesses and their employees are the vanguards of efforts to strengthen our food systems and the small business competition aims to celebrate these efforts and to showcase their inspirational stories. In line with the Summit that is open to people everywhere and leaving no one behind, we encourage such enterprises to raise their voices and help us understand what support they need in order to flourish.”
The competition will provide an opportunity for the Summit to showcase the best small businesses at the Pre-Summit to be held in Rome in July 2021.
Listening to the diverse voices of small businesses – from veterinary surgeries to cafes, producer cooperatives and digital start-ups – is a key component of the Summit process to identify bold, new solutions for improving food systems.
The competition will uncover not only the small businesses leading the charge for more sustainable, inclusive and resilient food systems but also ways in which they can be supported to scale up their trades sustainably.
Enterprises around the world that help provide healthy food to their communities and create jobs for local people are invited to apply and share ideas and suggestions for how their countries and economies can maximize their positive impact.
Each submission will help inform global leaders with the priorities and resources these businesses need to thrive, and all applicants will be invited to future Food Systems Summit events.
The competition is based on listening to the diverse voices of small businesses – from cafes to farmer cooperatives, digital start-ups, and veterinary surgeries – which is a key component of the Summit process to identify bold, new solutions for improving food systems.
The UN Food Systems Summit competition ‘Best Small Business: Good Food for All’ will identify the best small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from across the world transforming food systems for a better tomorrow.
The competition will uncover not only the small businesses and their employees who are leading the charge for more sustainable, inclusive and resilient food systems but also the ways in which they can be supported to scale up their trades sustainably.
Small businesses around the world that help provide healthy food that is good for the environment, good for their communities and create jobs for people locally are invited to apply and share ideas and suggestions for how their countries and economies can maximize their positive impact.
Any business can apply if it has between five and 250 employees and plays a role in any aspect of food value and supply chain. Each submission will help inform global leaders of the priorities and resources these businesses need to thrive.
The Summit will spotlight winners as the “Best 50 Small Businesses: Good Food for All”, as well as a share of US$100,000 in prize money.
The competition will run from April 29 to June 4, 2021. Applicants will be judged according to how their business contributes to healthier, more sustainable and equitable food for the communities they serve.
The competition comes hot on the heels of a coalition of multilateral development banks and development partners pledging over US$17 billion in financing on Friday during a high-level forum, in a bold bid to address rising hunger on the African continent and to improve food security.
These funds were pledged on the final day of a two-day high-level dialogue – Feeding Africa: leadership to scale up successful innovations. The event was hosted by the Africa Development Bank and the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), in partnership with the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) and the CGIAR System Organization, on 29 and 30 April.
In addition, 17 African heads of state signed on to the commitment to boost agricultural production by doubling current productivity levels through the scaling up of agro-technologies, investing in access to markets, and promoting agricultural research and development.
The various parties adopted a communiqué outlining these commitments at the end of the event.
Of the overall amount pledged, more than US$10 billion came from the African Development Bank, which said it would invest US$1.57 billion on scaling up 10 selected priority commodities over the next five years. This will help countries achieve self-sufficiency. Another US$8.83 billion go towards building strong value chains for these commodities over the next five years.
This will include programmes to create opportunities for young people – particularly women.
African Development Bank President Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina said: “Let us now create today, a stronger partnership: a partnership for greater scale; a partnership to take technologies and innovations to hundreds of millions of farmers.”
Sub-Saharan Africa has a quarter of the world’s arable land but only produces 10 per cent of its agricultural output. The low productivity of staple crops makes African agriculture uncompetitive. As a result, the continent imports one-third of the calories consumed. This makes food systems more vulnerable and dependent on external food supply chains.