Finer Foods Co and Baby Grubz selected for grant prizes at event organized by The Hershey Company and Village Capital

(ACCRA, GHANA) – Two startups, Ghana-based Finer Foods Co and Nigeria-based Baby Grubz, won $15,000 and $10,000 respectively last week at the Affordable Nutrition Forum presented by Village Capital and The Hershey Company. The forum was a showcase for ten startups from Ghana, Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire working to make nutrition more affordable and accessible in West Africa.

At the day-long forum, which took place on April 21, the 10 entrepreneurs went through sessions to evaluate their businesses and discuss key strategic challenges with mentors, with the day ending with a public pitch event. Finer Foods Co, which makes fortified porridge and weaning cereals and counts the Princess Marie Louise Hospital as a customer, was selected by a vote of the ten startups for the $15,000 “peer selected prize”. Baby Grubz, which makes nutritious and locally-produced baby foods in Nigeria and an online community of nearly 127,000 mothers, was selected by the event’s audience to win the $10,000 “audience prize”.

West African economies like Ghana, Nigeria, and Côte d’Ivoire are growing rapidly, yet nutrition for children still lags behind. In Ghana, UNICEF estimates that 57% of children under five are anemic, 23% are stunted, and 30,000 children suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition every year.

“We know it’s essential that all children have access to the nutrition they need to learn effectively and become the next generation of leaders,” said Whitney Mayer, Social Innovation Manager for The Hershey Company. “Nourishing Minds is our shared social purpose to undertake this goal.  And partnering with Village Capital and the West Africa Affordable Nutrition Program has been a terrific way to identify and support visionary entrepreneurs who share our commitment to improve access to safe, affordable nutrition for children and families.”

“Families in Africa want healthier food. But it’s still far too difficult for healthy food to reach the right people at the right price,” said Village Capital CEO Ross Baird. “The startups that participated in this forum are setting the foundation for more locally-produced food, better distribution of that food, and ultimately better options for families at lower prices.”

Anita Agyare, General Manager of Finer Foods Co, said: “We are profoundly grateful for the great opportunity given to us to meet potential investors, interact with mentors and receive such immense recognition for our work which has set the stage for financiers to come on board. We feel highly encouraged and motivated to do more in fighting malnutrition. The prize money will be used immediately, to automate our packaging line. We are in touch with some of the financiers and hope to get the necessary funding for machinery to produce very large volumes and reach more people, especially the vulnerable. We remain highly committed to fighting malnutrition in Africa with nutrient-dense foods at the most affordable price.”

Seun Sangoleye, Founder and CEO of Baby Grubz, said: “This money will help us procure a sachet filling and packaging machine and a ribbon mixer, to produce smaller quantities with fortifications which will enable our products to reach the bottom of the pyramid and make nutrition even more affordable and accessible.”

ABOUT VILLAGE CAPITAL

Village Capital is a global venture capital firm that finds, trains and invests in entrepreneurs solving real-world problems. Since 2009 we have invested in over 70 ventures across 15 countries and supported hundreds more through our collaborative investment-readiness programs. Village Capital graduates have leveraged initial capital 25:1, created over 10,000 jobs, and served over 6 million customers. For more information, visit www.vilcap.com and follow @villagecapital on Twitter.

ABOUT HERSHEY AND NOURISHING MINDS

The Hershey Company, headquartered in Hershey, Pa., is a global confectionery leader known for bringing goodness to the world through its chocolate, sweets, mints and other great-tasting snacks. The company’s shared social purpose, Nourishing Minds, seeks to provide children and families with the basic nutrition that is critical for them to learn and grow. With a goal to nourish one million children by 2020. Hershey’s commitment to improving the lives of children dates back to the 1909 creation of the Milton Hershey School, which offers education to socially and economically-eligible students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. This Affordable Nutrition forum is another step in Hershey’s holistic commitment to helping families in need across the globe build bright futures and lead successful lives.