There are 795 million undernourished people in the world. The UN has set the ambitious Sustainable Development Goal of eliminating hunger by 2030—and to do so, it is pioneering a Silicon Valley approach to aid.
In July 2016, the group created it’s World Food Programme Innovation Accelerator, a so-called “activist Y Combinator” giving people or companies with radical solutions between $50,000 and $100,000 to pilot them alongside several months of coaching from organizational partners. With more than 80 offices and 14,000 employees abroad, WFP can provide rollout support and make sure each solution is adopted within the right cultural context. The goal is to test fast, find what works, and scale it; the same standard applies to the Munich-based accelerator itself. It has five years and a total $27.5 million grant from the German government to show that the accelerator strategy is effective.
The goal is to create a pipeline for several dozen projects at different stages of development each year. Early successes include the introduction of easily assembled silos for small farmers in Uganda, which have helped 93,000 ranchers stop post-harvest losses, which destroy 40% of the region’s agriculture yields at a cost of $4 billion worldwide. Each investment should have an immediate impact and the potential to become sustainable. Expect WFP to support business models that help in one place and can be scaled elsewhere. That includes tackling trade-induced food waste (by redirecting cosmetically rejected fruits and veggies to school lunch programs), and expanding programs that are already working (like the popular meal donation app ShareTheMeal). They’re also working out how to best make blockchain cash transfers to hungry people in remote places, grow more through hydroponics, and transport food safely to those trapped in conflict zones.