Pakistan NutriBiz – part of the SUN Pitch Competition 2019-20 – was organised by the SUN Business Network Pakistan, with the support of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), and in partnership with The Indus Entrepreneur (TiE) Islamabad.
The competition is the first of its kind in Pakistan targeting nutrition-sensitive innovations across the food system. The competition is aimed at supporting innovative Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that bring solutions to address key challenges in the food system, such as food safety, food design, post-harvest losses and market connectivity, all of which limit the food system’s ability to deliver affordable safe and nutritious food for all.
The competition was launched in October 2019 and the call for applications ran from 30th October to 8th December 2019. After evaluating the submitted business proposals, 10 SMEs were shortlisted to participate in the competition. The shortlisted SMEs went through extensive training and mentorship from different experts on strategising start-ups to scale, investment raising, business soft skills and understanding the food system and its linkages with nutrition. The participating SMEs were; Poulta Inc, Bakhabar Kissan, Fruges, Plate 101, The Food Factory, FoodTrax, ShazdyFruits, Subzi.pk, Chaudhry Food Products and Chatta-BioCare.
The final day of the competition was held at the Marriott Hotel Islamabad, where the shortlisted SMEs pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges consisting of investors and other support providers.
Poulta Inc. was crowned the national winner, while Bakhabar Kissan and Fruges were awarded 1st and 2nd runner up positions respectively. Poulta Inc. won cash prizes of PKR 300,000 provided by GAIN and PKR 150,000 provided by BASF Pakistan (member of the SUN Business Network). The 1st and 2nd runners up also won cash prizes of PKR 200,000 and PKR 100,000 respectively from GAIN, and PKR 100,000 and PKR 50,000 from BASF Pakistan respectively. Similarly, TiE also announced a cash prize of PKR 100,000 for the national winner and PKR 50,000 for the runner up on behalf of Jessie’s, a local fast-food brand. Metro Cash&Carry offered retail shelf and retailing support to 3 of the participating SMEs which have nutritious food products.
The prizes were awarded by Chief Guest Ms Shandana Khan, Mr Muhammad Aslam Shaheen (SUN Focal Point Pakistan), Mr Faiz Rasool (Head of Programmes, GAIN), Mr Faisal Akhtar (CEO, BASF Pakistan) and Sara Hashwani (President, The Indus Entrepreneurs Islamabad).
Ms Shandana Khan, member of the National Assembly, Parliamentary Secretary for Commerce, and Chairperson of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians (CWP), was the chief guest of the event. Dr Muhammad Azeem Khan, Chairman, Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) was the guest of honour.
Ms Shandana Khan said that Pakistan is one of the top ten exporters of agricultural products in the world, but was also subjected to one of the biggest hunger issues, which was unfathomable. She said, “it’s promising to witness that this competition is promoting the participation of Pakistani youth in contributing towards agriculture, healthcare, job creation, and solving nutritional problems in Pakistan”. She also said that they are committed to taking every possible step to promote conditions for trade and commerce which will be beneficial for every sector including food and agriculture. She thanked GAIN and the Ministry of Planning & Development for organising a pitch competition in Pakistan for SMEs that have innovative solutions to contribute to addressing malnutrition in the country.
She also said that she will highlight the challenges faced by the innovative SMEs to the Ministry of Commerce and other relevant ministries, and a meeting of such impactful entrepreneurs can be organised with the ministry to discuss their challenges.
Speaking during the event, Dr Muhammad Azeem Khan said “Pakistan is an agriculture-based country and without value-added agriculture and increasing exports, we cannot sustain our economy and control inflation. For the affordability of nutritious food, we need to increase value additions and minimise post-harvest losses. NARC has taken initiatives to introduce value-added agriculture which will not only increase agriculture problems but will also contribute to improved nutrition as their initiative is nutrition-sensitive and will include nutritious product development. NARC is demonstrating a value-added agriculture model through the development of brands and then will partner with the private sector, including SMEs, to commercialise them at large scale”.
Mr Faiz Rasool, Head of Programmes, GAIN and Mr Faisal Akhtar, CEO, BASF Pakistan also spoke during the closing ceremony. Mr Rasool said that, “we aim to refine the current global discourse on food innovations to challenge and support local SMEs and entrepreneurs in Pakistan to identify and scale-up disruptive, appropriate and commercially viable innovations. These solutions proposed today will address the current and future challenges that impede the consumption of nutritious and safe foods for all, especially for low-income consumers”.
Mr Muhammad Aslam Shaheen, SUN Focal Point Pakistan & Chief Nutrition, Ministry of Planning & Development concluded the event with his closing remarks. He highlighted that the SUN Movement and its multi-stakeholder actions in Pakistan and other countries. He also highlighted the role of business and the actions taken by the SUN Business Network in Pakistan towards engaging business in improving nutrition.
Watch the Pakistan NutriBiz Summary Video here.
View more photos from the Pakistan NutriBiz Summary Video here.
Pakistan NutriBiz in the media: