PepsiCo launches multi-year investment fund to support a sustainable food system in South Africa

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AUTHOR: Molly Long

Multinational food and drinks company PepsiCo has launched the Kgodiso Development Fund, as it seeks to support the development of a more sustainable food system in South Africa. 

The fund is worth R600 million (around £30.5 million) and will be paid out over five years. 

According to PepsiCo, the money will be used to create “shared value solutions” that can go some way towards building a sustainable food system. 

Particular focuses will be on creating local jobs, increasing local procurement, and holistically supporting black economic empowerment. 

The country has emerged as a major player in recent years in regard to foodtech. Last year, South African start-up Infinite Foods partnered with San Francisco-based company Eat Just to develop a plant-based egg, whilst Mzansi Meat has developed the Africa’s first cultivated beef burger.

Although it has been founded by PepsiCo, the Kgodiso Development Fund will be run as an independent entity with an executive director and board of trustees. 

Funds will be split between different issues being tackled. R300 million (around £15 million) will be allocated to agricultural development. This will include supporting black-owned farming enterprises to scale their businesses. 

Kgodiso Development Fund Executive Director Diale Tilo says: “This will help transform the country’s agricultural landscape by developing a new generation of sustainable farming enterprises.”

A further R200 million (around £10 million) will be given to support education, training and upskilling. The company hopes this will enhance the skills pipeline in the country, thus securing the future of a sustainable food system. 

This will assist in unlocking the immense potential of South Africa’s human capital by addressing key skills and knowledge gaps in the food system,” says PepsiCo sub-Saharan Africa CEO Tertius Carstens. 

Finally, R100 million (around £5 million) will be given to small, medium and micro-sized businesses to provide incubation and tech support. 

Carstens adds: “This investment looks to encourage unique innovation, increase competitiveness and drive economic inclusion by building a pipeline of suppliers and entrepreneur networks, and by providing them a route to market,  business development support, funding and mentoring.”

PepsiCo has been steadily increasing its presence on the African continent in recent months. In February, the corporation announced the recipients for its Middle East and North Africa (MENA) focused Greenhouse Accelerator Programme. 

The programme will offer its chosen start-ups $20,000 (around £15,000) to help scale their companies, with all 10 companies focussed on developing more sustainable solutions in the food and drinks packaging and waste sectors. 

PepsiCo’s support of African enterprise makes business sense, given its strong presence in the continent. 

The company employs 13,000 people working across 70 warehouses and 45 production facilities in Africa, and annually procures more than 1.5 million tonnes of local maize, wheat, potatoes, oats and raisins. 

“The establishment of this fund, although independent, allows us to collaborate with like-minded partners, and develop solutions that address critical issues surrounding the region’s food security and combatting hunger,” adds Carstens. 

“We look forward to seeing the impact that these commitments have on helping us reach the shared goal of a thriving, resilient and sustainable food system in South Africa.”

Those wishing to apply for funding via the programme should visit the fund’s website for more information. 

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