UN Contest to Identify Innovative SMEs in Food Market

Photo: UN Food Systems Summit
Photo: UN Food Systems Summit

The Summit will celebrate those playing their part to transform through innovation the way small businesses produce, consume and dispose of food.

The UN Food Systems Summit has announced a competition to identify the best small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from across the world who are transforming food systems for a better tomorrow.

The Summit has launched a contest, named “Best Small Business: Good Food for All”, which will surface and name 50 small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) worldwide whose work best exemplifies the Summit’s aim of delivering all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by providing healthy, sustainable food and livelihoods for all.

The competition recognises those playing a key role in “building back better” from the pandemic while calling attention to the challenges they have been battling to overcome. The pandemic has disproportionately affected smaller businesses across the globe, especially those led by women. 

For example, the revenues of European SMEs alone saw reductions by as much as 70 per cent, according to one survey, while the World Bank estimates that businesses in developing countries were especially hard hit, with revenues down 70 per cent at the peak of the crisis, compared to only 45 per cent in OECD countries.

The Summit will celebrate those playing their part to transform through innovation the way small businesses produce, consume and dispose of food, offering lessons for building greater economic resilience and sustainability.

“All around the world, leaders need to pay attention to the ‘hidden’ contribution of the smaller businesses that are nourishing communities, creating jobs and regenerating nature,” said Dr. Agnes Kalibata, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the 2021 Food Systems Summit.

“These everyday businesses and their employees are the vanguard of efforts to strengthen our food systems and the small business competition aims to celebrate these efforts and to showcase their inspirational stories. In line with the Summit that is open to people everywhere and leaving no one behind, we encourage such enterprises to raise their voices and help us understand what support they need in order to flourish.”

The competition will provide an opportunity for the Summit to showcase the best small businesses at the Pre-Summit to be held in Rome in July 2021. The Summit will spotlight winners as the “Best 50 Small Businesses: Good Food for All”, as well as a share of US$100,000 in prize money.

The competition will run from April 29 to June 4, 2021. Applicants will be judged according to how their business contributes to healthier, more sustainable and equitable food for the communities they serve.

The UN Food Systems Summit was announced by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, on World Food Day last October as a part of the Decade of Action for delivery on the SDGs by 2030. 

The aim of the Summit is to deliver progress on all 17 of the SDGs through a food systems approach, leveraging the interconnectedness of food systems to global challenges such as hunger, climate change, poverty and inequality.

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Rakesh Raman