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Sara Ekondo bags Food Waste Challenge Winning Solution

Sara Ekondo bags Food Waste Challenge Winning Solution

Sara Ekondo, from Awana Foods based in Oshakati, was this week announced as the ‘2022 Capricorn Foundation Food Waste Challenge’ overall winner and recipient of the N$100,000 cash prize.

The Capricorn Foundation Food Waste Challenge was launched in July 2022 and called for innovative and sustainable solutions from the public, on reducing food waste in Namibia and resultantly promoting food security.

Ekondo’s idea, “lengthening the shelf-life of produce and reducing waste through value addition and preservation” was the cut above the rest, a statement released this week said.

Awana Foods is a local business operating in Oshakati and its solution stems from sourcing excess and b-grade produce from farmers to convert them into different products with the aim of prolonging shelf life while still retaining their nutritional value, by making products such as chutney and concentrate syrup.

According to the statement, the 2022 Food Waste Challenge is regarded as a huge success with a total of 101 submissions under the categories of collection, distribution, and storage of food and food products submitted on the closing date of 12 August 2022.

Of the 101 submissions, individual entries made up 70%, and the remaining 30% comprised teams and business submissions.

Submissions were made from South Africa, Botswana, Kenia, India, and Portugal; and submissions from Namibia came from all over Namibia, from Noordoewer to Katima Mulilo. The submissions were taken through an extensive internal judging process and were scored against set criteria and then taken through an external judging panel, representing various sectors of the economy, to vote for the top 10 submissions and the winning solution.

The Capricorn Foundation remains committed to being a Connector of Positive Change, and the Food Waste Challenge has shown what the Foundation means by that phrase, by providing a platform for the public to share their innovative ideas that can bring about sustainable positive change.

“It is based on this background that the Capricorn Foundation launched this innovative initiative to seek new possibilities in addressing the basic need of food security for the most vulnerable people in Namibia and in the same vein to positively impact society to improve the quality of life, in partnership with Skild who provided the Foundation with the Open Innovation platform and the Namibia Media Holdings as the media partner”, said Rikus Grobler, Manager: Innovation at Capricorn Group and Food Waste Challenge Project Coordinator.

“Apart from the winning solution and the many other innovative ideas that were submitted, the Capricorn Foundation Food Waste Challenge provided a platform to create awareness on the issue of food waste. We specifically chose today as the date to announce the winner, to align the Challenge with World Food Day, which was observed on Sunday, 16 October 2022, under the theme ‘leave no one behind. We congratulate Sara and hope that her prize money will aid her in extending her business of reducing waste through value addition and preservation,’ said Marlize Horn, Capricorn Foundation Executive Officer.

Even though the Terms and Conditions of the Challenge excluded employees of Capricorn Group and its subsidiaries to win the N$100,000.00 prize money, Pieter Badenhorst, an employee of Capricorn Group, also entered his innovative idea and came in 10th overall. The Capricorn Foundation recognized Badenhorst as a true Connector of Positive Change and rewarded his efforts with a cash prize of N$10,000.00.

“We commend the 101 submissions on their ideas and hope that their ideas can still be executed. To the nation at large, we urge everyone to actively seek ways to reduce food waste in Namibia and to play their part in improving food security”, Horn concluded.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP, 2021), Consumer food waste remains a global challenge. An estimated 17% of total global food production is wasted (11% in households, 5% in the food service sector, and 2% in retail). An audit conducted by the City of Windhoek between 16 and 20 November 2020, found that a total of 19 tons of waste were recorded with organic food products/leftovers and organic garden refuse to make up the biggest proportion of waste category recorded with 16% and 13% respectively (CoW, 2020).

The Top 10 Solutions are:
1. Awana Foods (Sara Ekondo)
2. Waste Not Want Not (Siobhan Dammert, Alna Dall, Leigh Adams, Shareen Thude)
3. EBIKES4AFRICA (Marita Walther, Bernhard Walther)
4. ChariTree (Richard Hoff, Tiree Ngaujake, Hileni Shipanga, Phrezia Sinalumbu)
5. NamLands (Louis Wessels, Philip Wessels, Dirk Basson, Ernesto Ekandjo)
6. Namibian Farmers Online (Mia Koster, Daniël Swart, Magda Cooper)
7. Fudlink Agri-Tech CC (Twamanguruka Nghidinwa, Francois-Jacques Malan, Lucas Nekare, Daniel Mulongeni)
8. Impact Tank
9. The Freeze Project (Sybrand de Waal)


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