Pitch contest awards $10,000 to two innovative Tanzanian firms

Winner Diana Orembe's firm NovFeed develops fish feed from organic waste.

Two Tanzanian agribusinesses have won $10,000 in the 2022 MEDA pitch competition. Diana Orembe from NovFeed & Jolenta Joseph from Sanavita tied for first place in the annual competition. The event was held at MEDA’s convention in Lancaster, Pennsylvania on November 5.

The competition is held to encourage and foster innovation in the spirit of MEDA’s mission. It is funded by MEDA supporters, the Ron & Barb Schlegel family.

NovFeed produces a biotech solution that uses bacteria to create a protein-rich fish feed from organic waste. Tanzanian fish farmers currently spend 70% of their production costs on pricey feeds like soy and fishmeal. The Novfeed process delivers feed at a lower cost that is affordable for farmers. Its product reduces waste and cuts carbon dioxide emissions.

NovFeed will use its prize money to buy equipment and inputs and equip a pilot facility to meet current and projected demand for its product.

Winner Jolenta Joseph’s firm Sanavita works to reduce malnutrition.

Sanavita addresses malnutrition through fortified staple products. It uses biofortified sweet potatoes and maize. These foods help children and women receive needed amounts of vitamin A, zinc, and iron. Eating these crops can reduce vitamin A deficiency and anemia. Sanavita will use its prize money on several educational and capacity-building projects:

  • Training 30 small-scale farmers on good agricultural practices of biofortified crops.
  • Educating food vendors on how to integrate biofortified products in their menus.
  • Creating awareness of the health benefits of biofortified crops through health centers, schools, daycare centers, and local media. 
  • Increasing the capacity of a bakery to produce more products containing biofortified ingredients.

The event was held in front of an appreciative audience for the first time in three years. But only two of the five finalists delivered five-minute pitches in person. Three other finalists, including Joseph, connected and interacted with a judging panel online.

Normally, the contest awards a $10,000 first prize and $5,000 to the runner-up. Since the judging panel of three MEDA staff was tied in their evaluations of the top two presenters, both will receive $10,000.

NovFeed was voted fan favorite by conference attendees who were invited to pick their favorite pitch.

Other finalists included:

  • Coffee for Peace, a Philippines-based social enterprise that works to reduce conflict by producing quality coffee from peaceful sources.
  • Pumapa Capital, a Kenyan-based global impact investment firm.
  • AFCO Investment Co., a Tanzanian firm that is processing porridge and flour using crops enriched with vitamin A to fight malnutrition.

You can read more about the contest winners at novfeed.com and sanavita.co.tz.

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