Winning entrepreneurs from West, East, and Central Africa awarded with $15,000 each seed grants to address food security challenges

The Pamoja Founders Project, a collaborative regional leadership development program by IREX, the PepsiCo Foundation, and PepsiCo has granted $15,000 (Ksh 1,958,100) each to six leading African enterprises as catalytic support.
The announcement followed a competitive pitch competition held on 3rd June,2024 in Nairobi, Kenya, post a four-day boot camp for the Pamoja entrepreneurs. The winning enterprises, led by young innovators, address critical food security challenges in their respective countries:
“We are here to celebrate and acknowledge the entrepreneurial spirits and journeys of the inaugural cohort of the Pamoja Founders Project,” said George Kogolla, IREX’s Country Director for Kenya and East Africa. “We also celebrate IREX and PepsiCo’s shared commitment to investing in promising young African leaders across the continent. As IREX marks 10 years of administering the U.S. Department of State’s Mandela Washington Fellowship, Pamoja exemplifies our continued support for alumni of such programs and their innovative solutions for Africa’s challenges.”
The Pamoja Founders Project provided them with a comprehensive training, mentorship, and networking opportunities to equip the entrepreneurs with the skills and resources needed to scale their ventures. The champions represent the diverse landscape of food security solutions across Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Nigeria.
“‘Pamoja’ is a Swahili word that means ‘together.’ At the PepsiCo Foundation we believe no single entity can solve an issue alone – working together with our partners and the communities we serve is key to ensuring our solutions are locally tailored for lasting impact.” C.D. Glin, President of the PepsiCo Foundation & Global Head of Social Impact for PepsiCo, shared. “Pamoja Founders Project and our partnership with IREX has lifted up 12 African food and agricultural entrepreneurs through a rigorous training program, with six also receiving catalytic seed grants.”
The catalytic grants was awarded to:
· Abdul de Almeida, Co-Founder, Crimas, Orza and FAE; Mozambique
· Juliet Namwanje, Founder, Ziimba; Uganda
· Brendah Nantongo, Founder, Veathari Ventures Limited; Uganda
· Elizabeth Okullow, Founder, Agriboom; Kenya
· Dr. Akpem Terese Shadrach, Founder, Vet Konect; Nigeria
· Nathnael Tadesse, Founder & CEO, Senaryo Trading, PLC; Ethiopia
“This exceptional cohort exceeded our expectations with their passion, thoughtfulness, and commitment to advancing food security across Africa,” said Roshan Paul, Director of Leadership at IREX. “Pamoja has affirmed that IREX’s investment in cultivating and supporting Africa’s future leaders is paying dividends.”
George Kogolla IREX’s Country Director for Kenya and East Africa also applauded IREX and PepsiCo’s efforts in empowering the entrepreneurs  “We also celebrate IREX and PepsiCo’s shared commitment to investing in promising young African leaders across the continent. As IREX marks 10 years of administering the U.S. Department of State’s Mandela Washington Fellowship, Pamoja exemplifies our continued support for alumni of such programs and their innovative solutions for Africa’s challenges.”
IREX will support the entire cohort for the next three months as they complete the program. After the project, the Pamoja Founders will join a vibrant, supportive pan-African network of IREX alumni.
“We are committed to working with innovators and changemakers to catalyze and shape a more sustainable food system for Africa. Each of the Pamoja entrepreneurs’ ventures addressed critical challenges and we look forward to being an integral a part of their journey to further success.” said Wael Ismail, Vice President – Corporate Affairs in Africa, Middle East, and South Asia (AMESA), PepsiCo.
Other participants recognized for their contributions and accomplishments in the cohort included;
· Benson Abila, Founder, M-Taka; Kenya
· Mafeng Dangyang, Co-Founder, Kayan Gona Agro Network; Nigeria
· Emmanuel Dusabimana, Founder, Agriboom; Uganda
· Nalugemwa Elizabeth, Founder, Seedloans and Kyaffe Farmers Coffee; Uganda
· Abdallah Mabrouk, Founder & Executive Director, Ibukia Shambani; Tanzania
· Babajide Oluwase, Co-Founder and CEO, Ecotutu; Nigeria
The closing ceremony featured guests including representatives from IREX, the PepsiCo Foundation, and PepsiCo;  Sakaja Johnson, Governor of Nairobi City County, Kenya; United States Embassy officials; and prominent figures from the business and social impact sectors. Their presence underscored the importance of multi-stakeholder collaboration in addressing food security challenges across West, East and Central Africa.

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