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New incubation programme set to transform food systems across South Africa

A new social entrepreneurship incubation programme, set to drive inclusive growth and sustainability within the food system, has just announced an Open Call for social entrepreneurs to apply. The programme, run by Oribi in partnership with AfriFOODlinks, aims to enable and support the transformation of early-stage entrepreneurs into thriving social entrepreneurs within the agri-food sector.

The incubation programme will welcome early-stage entrepreneurs who aspire to create a more sustainable food supply chain through their work. “In understanding the challenges within the food and agricultural sectors, we are looking to support practices that promote regenerative agriculture, circular waste management systems, access to healthy and nutritious food, food justice projects, and agricultural innovation,” says Tasneem Jhetam, Programmes and Innovation Lead at Oribi. “This incubation programme not only seeks to address immediate issues, but to cultivate a sustainable and resilient food ecosystem for the future.”

South Africa’s agri-food sector is still severely hindered by inefficient production processes. Up to 12 million tonnes of edible food goes to waste every year, while 20 million South Africans are considered to be food vulnerable. “Transforming the agri-food sector will need to consider the full food value-chain, from production to recovering waste,” adds Jhetam.

The incubation programme will be open to social entrepreneurs that are based in Cape Town and will be a multi-step programme running over 9 months, starting in the second half of 2024.

Starting with a selection process in May 2024, 100 budding social entrepreneurs will put their ideas and ventures to the test in a ‘Foodathon’, a two-day hackathon style activity. From this, 50 entrepreneurs will be shortlisted for a mentorship stage to develop business plans. In the programme’s final phase, 15 entrepreneurs will be enrolled in a 9 month incubation programme to improve market and funding readiness. Eligible entrepreneurs can have a business plan, a scalable idea, or a working prototype, and should be operational to some degree, with a willingness to invest time in developing decent growth for their business.

“We would like to ensure the inclusion of women and youth entrepreneurs from marginalised and under-resourced areas in Cape Town,” adds Jhetam. “From past incubation programmes, we have mentored many entrepreneurs who went on to start and run incredibly successful social ventures in the agri-food sector. Our partnership with AfriFOODlinks will offer the opportunity for our social entrepreneurs to receive mentorship and one-on-one coaching from leading industry experts. They will also join a wide network of other food system entrepreneurs across the African continent.”

We encourage entrepreneurs based in Cape Town who are working on sustainable agri-food solutions to apply to this programme. For more information on Oribi and the AfriFOODlinks programme, visit: and the application link here.

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