The World Food Programme (WFP) Innovation Accelerator, an Impact Partner of Singularity University, just published their 2019 annual report. It’s full of many great examples of how those working to solve the world’s most urgent social challenges can harness both technology and innovation to do so.
The WFP Innovation Accelerator, which was created four years ago, works to source and scale solutions to end hunger worldwide. While many innovation accelerators simply support external entrepreneurs who apply to their programs, the WFP Innovation Accelerator also supports projects from their own staff and other parts of the World Food Programme and United Nations. In addition, they recently began running programs for mission-aligned organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This is a powerful model which brings together the existing players who have access to knowledge, a global infrastructure and resources, with new players bringing in fresh ideas and new communities. It is a great model for not only how the humanitarian and social impact sector can drive innovation, but how any company or institution can do so.
I encourage you to browse through the report and check out their projects, several of which are getting remarkable results. For example, their Building Blocks initiative, which supplies refugees with digital food coupons, served over 107,000 Syrian refugees in 2019, dispersed over $3 million per month, and increased accountability and transparency while also reducing transaction costs by 98%. It is now the humanitarian sector’s largest blockchain-based cash distribution system. Their Post-Harvest Loss Reduction project reduced harvest losses for smallholder farmers in Africa by 98% by training over 113,000 farmers in 2019 and increasing access to hermetically-sealed grain storage bags. H2Grow, a water-efficient, no-soil-required hydroponics system designed to grow food and animal fodder in harsh environments like refugee camps and urban slums helped over 7600 people in seven countries.
These are just a handful of the examples of successful projects listed in the report. It’s also important to note the WFP Innovation Accelerators’ commitment to ensuring that the most vulnerable people have access to the most advanced and sophisticated technologies. The report notes that they continue to experiment with artificial intelligence, bionics, blockchain, drones, edge computing, and robotics to ensure humanitarians can most effectively deliver on their mandate. In a world where these technologies are increasingly affordable and accessible due to the price/performance trends of exponential technologies, all of us have a good chance of now solving some of our world’s toughest problems.
Are you a startup working to create a world of zero hunger? Consider applying to the WFP Innovation Accelerator.