Young entrepreneur wins US$30,000 with idea to combat starvation and food waste in Africa

Korotoumou Sidibé dreams of ending starvation and guaranteeing food security in Africa, and today her dream is a step closer to reality. Her innovative plan for tackling the problem of food waste has earned her top prize in the Nescafé Get Started initiative.

The 21-year-old from Mali came up with the winning idea of eliminating food waste by paying food producers to convert supplies that would have been thrown away into products that can still be used. Food waste can occur in Africa at harvest, during transportation and in storage.

Simply by changing practices at those key stages, Korotoumou, an agriculture student, believes mountains of wasted food could be used for good. At the same time, small farmers across the continent could benefit from extra income.

Her plan includes using proper packaging to keep food fresh and give it a longer shelf life. Fruits can be transformed into juice or jelly and meats vacuum packed so they are not exposed to dust or insects which are rife at food markets in Africa.

In order to avoid food waste, the disused products are purchased from small farmers in rural areas. The regions benefit not only from new income streams but also education centres where farmers and merchants are given help in running their business and avoiding waste. They learn how to analyse supply and demand, how to win finance for their products and how to maximise profits.

Korotoumou believes her plans will benefit both people and the environment, and one day hopes to build her own food transformation facility, so that no human ever has to go to bed hungry.

“I always hear people say ‘let’s develop Africa’, but I think how can this happen when there are people starving and dying of hunger,” said Korotoumou. “Imagine a world without malnutrition and starvation, where food waste is instead a valued, much needed, product. This is a world that we are one step closer to thanks to the Nescafé Get Started initiative backing my idea.”

The annual Nescafé Get Started challenge encourages young people to submit entrepreneurial plans which could benefit others and society. Korotoumou was announced as the 2015 Get Started winner in December 2015 and will receive US$30,000 worth of financial support and mentoring to turn her dream into a reality.

The food waste reduction plan beat more than 2,000 entries across the fields of technology, health, art and culture, community development and the environment, from 18 to 30 year olds from Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon.

A public vote on the Nescafé Facebook page led to a shortlist of four ideas. Korotoumou was then chosen as the winner by a jury of leading African entrepreneurs which consisted of Toyosi Akerele-Ogunisji, founder of the RISE Networks Social Enterprise; Fred Swaniker, founder of the African Leadership Academy; and Adama Ndiaye, the fashion designer behind Adama Paris and founder of Dakar Fashion Week.

Nescafé will partner with Social Media Week in Lagos – the West African edition of the annual worldwide conference - from the 22nd to the 26th of February 2016. The event curates and shares the best ideas, innovations and insights into how social media and technology are changing business, society and culture around the world.

On 23rd February Nescafé will lead a conference on ‘Harnessing Digital Innovation for Social Good: The Nescafé Initiative’. The session will focus on the regional scheme that aims to inspire young African entrepreneurs to generate innovative ideas to create value for society such as Nescafé Get Started Africa.

For more information of the Nescafé Get Started Programme and Korotoumou’s winning idea visit:


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