The Pamoja Founders Project Awards $90,000 Seed Grants to Six Food Security Champions in Africa

Winning entrepreneurs from Ethiopia, Nigeria, Mozambique, Uganda, and Kenya each awarded $15,000 seed grants to address food security challenges in West, East, and Central Africa, backed by IREX, the PepsiCo Foundation, and PepsiCo

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The Pamoja Founders Project Cohort 1 with representatives from IREX, PepsiCo and PepsiCo Foundation with the Nairobi Governor, H.E. Hon. Governor Sakaja Johnson (centre)

The Pamoja Founders Project, a collaborative regional leadership development program by IREX, the PepsiCo Foundation, and PepsiCo has granted $15,000 each to six leading African enterprises as catalytic support. The announcement followed a competitive pitch competition held in Nairobi, Kenya, post a four-day boot camp for the Pamoja entrepreneurs. The winning enterprises, led by passionate young innovators, address critical food security challenges in their respective countries:

The catalytic grants, valued at $15,000 each, were 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

The Pamoja Founders Project provides comprehensive training, mentorship, and networking opportunities to equip young 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.

The closing ceremony featured distinguished guests including representatives from IREX, the PepsiCo Foundation, and PepsiCo; H.E. Hon. Governor 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.

“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.”

“‘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. I’m extremely proud of the role Pamoja Founders Project is playing in making the food system more inclusive, secure, and sustainable across Africa.”

“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.”

“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.

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 also honor and recognize the contributions and accomplishments of the other participants in the cohort:

  • 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

Read more about the members of the inaugural cohort and their ventures here.