The Southern Africa Resilience Innovation Lab (SA RILab) held a successful pitching event on May 12, 2015 at the University of Pretoria Graduate Centre. Twenty shortlisted innovators selected from 175 applicants who responded to the Resilience Innovation Challenge for Food Security and Improved Income Generation (RIC4FIG) participated in the live and Skype pitching exercise. The event brought together a panel of experts in the fields of Agriculture, Food Science, Public Health, Economics and Business. In all these efforts to strength resilience to target African communities’ most pressing challenges, important to note is the continuous generous support from USAID. The event was also graced by a USAID Washington D.C representative, USAID Southern Africa Mission representative, the Councillor of Ward 96 Pretoria, a representative from the Tshwane Department of Health as well as community representatives from Pyramid.
The objective of the Resilience Innovation Challenge for Food Security and Improved Income Generation (RIC4FIG) (www.grants.ranlab.org) is to source for Innovations that will strengthen the resilience of target communities by building their agency to promote life and entrepreneurship skills, diversify to profitable enterprises and to improve farming skills and take more control of the agricultural value chain in ways that are sustainable and expand financial inclusion. The SA RILab with support from USAID will select and fund projects focusing on the following four challenges in the target communities of Chikwawa Malawi, Pyramid and surrounding areas of South Africa, Beitbridge Zimbabwe and Limpopo South Africa;
• Life and entrepreneurship skills development
• Enterprise development for livelihoods diversification
• Scaling sustainable agricultural practices
• Catalyzing agricultural markets
In his opening remarks, Prof. Lekan Ayo-Yusuf, Director SA RILab noted that it is important to ensure that solutions directed towards strengthening the resilience of Africans come from the Africans themselves, through African Universities and of course employing scientific and evidence based approaches. He emphasised the need for locally developed innovations, a criteria many of the applicants met. The pitching session which was the last stage in a three phase judging process, allowed the innovators to showcase their ideas and technologies live and respond to questions arising from their written submissions. Successful innovators will be awarded grants ranging between US$15000 to US$35000 in the 1st phase of funding. Remain engaged on the RAN Social Media Platforms for the announcement of the RIC4FIG winners!