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Micronutrient malnutrition is highly prevalent and persistent among Ghanaian women where 1 in every 2 women of reproductive age are folate deficient, 40% are overweight and 20% are anaemic. There is a critical need for availability of foods rich in micronutrients. Therefore, the Elevator Pitch Contest by Sight and Life in partnership with Obaasima, McGill University and Association of Ghana Industries sought disruptive ideas in aspirational and affordable nutritious foods.

EPC, Sight and LIFe, Elevator Pitch Contest, Ghana, nutrition, food products

The Competition

On September 12, 2019, Sight and Life’s maiden Elevator Pitch Contest designed to encourage local solutions to local problems by locals took place in Accra, Ghana. Open only to residents of Ghana, this contest drew 35 entries from students of 6 Ghanaian universities and many young entrepreneurs with fresh ideas to improve foods. Applications ranged from innovative ideas to successful solutions already at scale proving the judges a difficult task narrowing down the group of 35 applicants down to seven finalists. Our thanks goes to the jury members who shared their immense knowledge, experience and expertise in nutrition assessment.

Breda Gavin-Smith, Global Public Health Nutrition Manager, Sight and Life

Kwame Jantuah, CEO, African Energy Consortium Ltd.

Samuel Kwame Ntim Adu, Founder and CEO, Yedent Agro Group of Companies Ltd.

The seven finalists were awarded a round trip to Accra, Ghana to pitch their innovations at the Ghana Industrial Summit and Exhibition 2019. Before the competition, each finalist received extensive mentorship and feedback regarding their concept and presentation to help hone their pitch. The finalists worked with Parand Salmassinia, Global Vice President of Commercial Strategy, Key Accounts & Aroma Ingredients Business of DSM, and Dr. Nii Addy, Assistant Professor (Research) at McGill’s Institute for the Study of International Development (ISID) of McGill University on their innovations through multiple group and individual sessions to refine their pitch and improve their narrative. They also met with William Offori Appaw, a previous Elevator Pitch finalist who shared his entrepreneurial journey and the experience of participating at the previous Elevator Pitch Competition held in Mumbai.

The Winners

The third place winner of the Elevator Pitch Competition was Ewura Esi Manful from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, with a nutritious yogurt called ‘Sweetpot yogurt’ that aims to curb vitamin A deficiency while simultaneously providing a market for sweet potatoes. Sweetpot yoghurt is naturally flavoured and supplemented with Vitamin A, and dietary fibres, presenting consumers with a healthier snack choice.

Grace A. Twumasi, receiving the first runner up award from Ing. Alfred D. Sackeyfio, Director, Corporate Strategy of Volta River Authority

The second place winner was Grace A. Twumasi from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. She pitched an innovative nutrient dense food for children made completely from locally available raw materials such as orange flesh sweet potato, millet, soyabeans. Grace’s innovation has already completed research trials at the Manhiya Children’s Hospital in Kumasi and is ready to be scaled up to the market.

The winner of the competition was Zeenatu Suglo Adams from Pneuma Food Scientifics, a start-up that formulates affordable and nutritious snacks that taste great. Zeenatu pitched ‘Yammy pops’, a ready to eat (RTE) extruded snack made from underutilized and highly nutritious crops (yam, tamarind indica, baobab). This snack has high vitamin C, mineral, protein and fibre content. Yammy Pops, similar to corn pops, are made out of yams and therefore also reducing dependence on cereals and grains.

“Initially it was not an easy task, but after many rehearsals and coaching by the EPC team, I managed to talk about my idea in 5 minutes. This activity helped me identify the key features needed in a building a business. Passion alone is not enough. The facts and figures are very important,” states Zeenatu Suglo Adams, winner, Elevator Pitch Contest finalist.

Other finalists of the event are:

JOACHIM ASARE, SPeCS Foods
Muden is a nutritious fermented cake made from popular cereals in Ghana like maize, millet, rice, soybean & sorghum. It can either be eaten alone or added to cooked foods. The fermentation process enhances the development of micronutrients.

EDITH KUFOALOR, Sosogin
Sosogin is an organic herbal tea from hibiscus petals, bicolar sorghum grass, lemongrass and ginger produced from locally grown plants. It has nutrients that help support digestion, prevent stomach ulcers, and also contains anti-biofilm properties such as beta-carotene, lycopene and others.

JOHN ATTU, Nature Foods
Yogurt made from fresh pasteurized cows milk and fruits that are sourced locally. The product is rich in protein, calcium, vitamin D, B12, riboflavin, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and probiotics, which boosts digestive health. The addition of fresh fruits improves the vitamin, mineral and fiber content in the product.

DEBORAH AMOASI, Dietician App
A mobile app with a database of calories of all Ghanaian foods. The aim of the app is to be able to convert foods consumed into daily calories and provide individual body mass index (BMI) scores depending on height and weight.

The Elevator Pitch Contest by Sight and Life brought together local entrepreneurs and provided an opportunity for them to connect and incubate their ideas. The seven finalists pumped life in to this contest with their cutting edge ideas and passion – we are looking forward to bright futures for all of them. This was Sight and Life’s fourth Elevator Pitch Competition, with the first three held in Cancun (2016) focusing on micronutrients, Boston (2018) seeking innovations in nutrition assessment and Mumbai (2018) challenging ways to reduce aflatoxins. For more information on these exciting competitions, visit elevatorpitch.org.

Take a look at pictures from the event: