On Thursday, March 1st, the Private Sector Mechanism (PSM) held an information session in Nairobi, Kenya. The hope for this event was to engage with more farmers, SMEs, and agricultural entrepreneurs in East Africa, an area that represents incredible growth, potential, and challenges in the ongoing fight to end malnutrition and hunger worldwide by 2030.
Organizing and leading this meeting was an exciting opportunity for me, as I had come away from CFS44, held in Rome last October, feeling invigorated by the insights and passion of the farmers and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from East Africa who were able to be in Rome. It was also a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with entrepreneurs in Nairobi, a place I called home for over two years, where I ran a small business that delivered professional development to women in the form of cooking and nutrition classes. I can attest from personal experience that Nairobi is filled with energetic innovators who, if allowed access to appropriate resources, will be some of the world’s most important actors in feeding a future population of up to 9 billion.
The information session was graciously co-sponsored by two previous attendees of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS): Margaret Munene of Palmhouse Dairies, and Steve Ngunyi of Icon (Be One), both of Kenya. These two individuals have been incredible advocates of the PSM since attending CFS in 2017 in Rome, Italy, and their passion for the work of the Private Sector Mechanism shone through as they shared personal experiences about the partnerships and insights inspired by CFS.
The information session was attended by a diverse group of people from many different parts of the food value chain in Nairobi and the surrounding areas. There were the founders of an innovative tea cooperative that aims to eliminate middlemen and promote the health benefits of unique Kenyan teas. Then there was a leader in Kenyan media who produces instructional, reality TV-style shows specifically targeted at farmers and rural families. Next to her was the founder of a business that aims to improve profitability and sustainability of smallholder dairy farming in Kenya through digitization and other high-impact products. There was an expert in agricultural biotechnologies seated across from a woman whose company fights poverty and food security by promoting and enabling soybean farming amongst smallholders. The list of insightful, creative, and impactful agricultural leaders in that room goes on and on, and we are thrilled to now count many of them as members of the PSM.
The PSM hopes to see more and more farmers and SMEs at each CFS gathering at which we are present, and we are always aiming for more geographic diversity as well. The information session in Nairobi was an encouraging step in that direction, as well as a challenging reminder that there is still immense progress to be made in comprehensively and meaningfully involving the private sector in the fight to end hunger.